Chinese solar power pioneer Huang Ming is one of four winners of the 2011 Right Livelihood Awards, sometimes also called the alternative Nobel prize.
Mr Huang was honoured for developing "cutting-edge technologies for harnessing solar energy".
Also honoured were Chadian human rights activist Jacqueline Moudeina, Spain-based farmers' advocacy group Grain and US midwifery educator Ina May Gaskin.
The awards are granted by a Sweden-based foundation.
They were founded in 1980 by Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull to recognise work he felt was being ignored by the Nobel Foundation.
In a statement, the Right Livelihood Awards Foundation said this year's winners "turn the spotlight on solutions to global wrongs".
Mr Huang received the honorary award while the other three won 50,000 euros (£43,000; $68,000) each.
Ms Moudeina was cited "for her tireless efforts at great personal risk to win justice for the victims of the former dictatorship in Chad and to increase awareness and observance of human rights in Africa".
She has worked to represent the victims of Chad's former President, Hissene Habre, who is blamed for killing and torturing tens of thousands of opponents between 1982 and 1990, charges he denies.
He has been sentenced to death in Chad but has been living in Senegal since he was ousted in 1990.
Grain, international non-profit organisation supporting small farmers and rural communities in the developing world was lauded for "their worldwide work to protect the livelihoods and rights of farming communities and to expose the massive purchases of farmland by foreign financial interests", the foundation's citation said.
And the foundation said Ina May Gaskin was recognised for "her lifelong work to promote natural childbirth methods in a society where medicated deliveries and caesarean sections are the norm".