By Rama Siva in India
I have been in rural Eastern India for the past few weeks in villages that have had no electricity for most of its history. Then about 2 years ago, Husk Power Systems(www.huskpowersystems.com) came on the scene with small scale power plants that create electricity from rice husk. The changes in the villages since the coming of electricity have been enormous.
The technology of gasification and power generation is many decades old. So why is it that these and thousands of other villages rich in agricultural waste are yet to be electrified? The answer may lie in the challenges of operating such a set up in a sustainable way in a rural setting. It is tough to find and train operators from the village level labor pool. The costs have to be kept well within the ability of the local consumers to pay for it. Even when the price is reasonable, it is a huge effort to get the consumers to pay regularly month after month.
Husk Power Systems is active on the field finding solutions to some of these challenges. Rich in venture capital funding and grants from the likes of Shell Foundation, they plan to set up 60 of these power plants in 2010 reaching a quarter of a million people in India. This is technology from early 20th century being harnessed on a large scale with 21st century management tools.