Rice Husks + Innovation = Renewable Energy

India has been found to be particularly fertile ground for experimentation with renewable energy initiatives. The latest version of Ernst & Young’s “Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index” reaffirms this fact, ranking India as the third most attractive market for renewable energy investment:

India’s rise to third overall … has been precipitated by excellent national and regional government support for both foreign and local investment in renewable technologies. Consequently, rapid growth is expected to continue in this market.

The report goes on to note that “installed renewables capacity in India – currently standing at 8GW – is now expected to double every five years, and is forecast to reach 20GW by 2012, twice the government’s target.”

One new venture in this space is Husk Power Systems, which aims to “provide power to millions of rural Indians in a financially sustainable, scalable, environmentally friendly, and profitable manner.” Starting with villages in Bihar, HPS has developed a viable business model for generating power from agricultural residue, namely rice husks. How does the system work?

The organization has developed a distributed power supply and distribution system that uses 35-100kW “mini power- plants” in villages of 200-500 households within the Indian “Rice Belt” and offers electricity as a pay-for-use service.

In addition to power generation, rice husks have additional income-generation utility, as 1) the ash produced by burning the rice husks can be “converted into a valuable ingredient for cement production,” and 2) the rice husk generators can potentially be paid for reducing carbon emissions through a trading program established by the Kyoto Protocol. The result, then, according to innovators Ransler and Sinha, is the multi-fold:

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TC-I Tidbits

  • Health: According to a report, India is not on track toward the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child and maternal mortality. The number of children who die before their fifth birthday stands at 76 per 1,000 live births, while the goal is 38.
  • Government Schemes: The Gujarat state government’s Jyoti Gram Yojana, a program to ensure 100 per cent village electrification, increased employment and reduced migration from rural areas by 33 per cent. The government is considering scaling up further and replicating in other areas.
  • Energy: India is one of the three countries in a renewable energy project by Osram, a lighting company, where solar-powered lanterns and battery boxes will replace kerosene lamps in villages.
  • Agriculture: In some positive news following the concern of rising food prices, the government estimates that India’s total food grains will be a record 227.32 million tons, which is 10 million more tons than last year.

Midday Newsfeed

  • Renewable Energy: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India has announced a demonstration programme to support mega watt size grid interactive solar power generation projects, up to a maximum capacity of 50 MW, in the country. Similar efforts have been pushed by Himachal Pradesh’s CM, in an effort for more hydel power Public-Private Parnterships with entrepreneurs.
  • Insurance: A cashless health insurance program has been unveiled to target those under the poverty line. In a related story, Haryana’s government plans to invest 100RS per month per Anganwari worker for insurance through Life Insurance Corporation of India.
  • Microfinance: Lok Capital LLC, an India focused microfinance venture capital fund, has raised its fund size by about 80 per cent to $22 million from $14.5 million. Also, two Indian MFIs have received funding from Oikocredit, a Dutch cooperative fund.
  • Food supply and prices: UN report claims that Asia’s poorest being harmed by biofuels with regard to rising food prices. In a related news story, the World Bank has come out to say that the era of cheap food may be over. Bringing this problem home, one final story brings to light the likelihood of a food shortage in India. (this article was in the yesterday’s Evening Edition).
  • Human interest/child marriage: 13 year old girl stands up against child marriage.

US politicians come to India to learn about renewable energy

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, along with other high ranking politicians traveled to India from the United States to learn from Indian businesses on how to become leaders in climate change and renewable energy.

Speaker Pelosi said, “Our delegation was very encouraged to hear that the leaders in the Indian business community believe industry can be in the forefront of climate change and energy efficiency initiatives, rather than stand as a barrier to change.”

The Press Trust of India also reported that the House intends to hold hearings next month on how the US can help developing nations like India address global warming.

Source: Global Development: Views from the Center

Super Early Morning Edition

Headlines: 

The Manmohan Singh government, which is battling inflation, has another worry at hand: a shrinking job market. While the government at the Centre has not been able to rein in prices, it has admitted that rupee appreciation against dollar has resulted in the loss of about 20 lakh jobs.

In an effort to provide electricity to every rural household in the country the ministry of new and renewable energy has decided to provide a generation-based incentive of Rs 12 per kilo watt hour for electricity generated from solar photovoltaic and a maximum of Rs 10 per kWh for electricity generated through solar thermal power plants and fed to the grid from a grid interactive solar power plant of 1 mega watt and above.

Progress in detecting new cases of tuberculosis is slowing, threatening to increase the risks of transmitting drug-resistant strains, the World Health Organization said Monday.  India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Nigeria rank as the top five countries in terms of absolute numbers of tuberculosis cases.  The W.H.O. said there was a shortfall of $2.5 billion of the $4.8 billion needed this year for overall tuberculosis control in low- and middle-income countries.

A professor, a team of students led by Beena Sukumaran, and an environmental engineering have made new pedal-powered grain crusher that promises to become an effective and cheap food processor unit for the economically disadvantaged communities of the world.  It could help generate income for individuals traveling from village to village.

If you build it (a map), they will come (and build solar panels)

There are few things hotter than BoP. One of them may be renewable energy, particularly solar (no pun intended) and wind. Well one would imagine that anything that combines these two fields of unusually high interest that there would be a flourish of activity on the ground. Not so fast argues Kenneth Westrick, CEO of energy consulting group 3Tier, who says the real thing the field of BoP renewable energy needs is more information.

To respond to this need, 3Tier has created an interactive map that visualizes the best areas to build renewable energy plants all over the world. Nextbillion writes:

Ken contended that what the renewable energy sector really needs right now to successfully tap BoP markets is a map. In particular, the online map that 3Tier launched on Monday – this technology will utilize the most recent available research to show in any given 5 km space anywhere in the world the viability of wind and solar energy based on how much sun or wind that area is exposed to on a regular basis.

This effort by 3Tier intends to map the entire world in only the less than two year to prove to potential investors that numerous opportunities for scalable investments exist throughout the world’s emerging economies. Such efforts that are global in scope provide some hope that the developing world could actually achieve the same leapfrogging with energy that they did with mobile phones (key word some).