Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Financially viable rice husk power generators in rural Bihar

Power generation from agricultural residues is nothing new in this country. Coming to power generation from rice husks, Thailand has been proactive and have two decades of experience. However, in most of these projects, financials are what makes them not so interesting when those are to be scaled up.

Recently Ernst & Young has come out with a report which estimates renewable energy installed capacity in India would become 20GW by 2012 and this makes it, the third largest RE market in the world.

Recently two Indians (one of them is a student from Virginia, US) from Husk Power systems (HPS) have come up with a viable business model to produce power by burning rice husks. There are many advantages in such models:
  1. Optimal utilization of wastage, both rice husks and ash
  2. Reduction in carbon emissions
  3. Less dependency on fossil fuels
  4. Reduction of wastage in utilizing the power
  5. Stability of power
  6. Regional control over distribution
  7. And of course, not the least, possibly lower cost
Coming to this Swades movie type HPS project, running at 95% capacity, a single village setup would gross about $22,500 a year - but cover their cost of operation when running at just 40% capacity. Each plan can be staffed by three villagers: One to feed around 100 pounds of rice husks into the generator each hour, one to maintain the equipment, and one to collect payments from customers. Currently it has piloted in two villages in Bihar.

Villagers will require pre-payment for all electricity generated, and they will spend more to wire the village using double-insulated wire that is more difficult to illegally tap into than standard wire. Since electrical meters cost $10 to $15 each, and an average household will consume only about $15 to $18 of electricity per year, Husk Power will instead use a $1 circuit breaker to distribute electricity to a branch line serving four or five households. A Husk Power employee in the village will conduct a basic energy audit to determine how much electrical load the branch of houses will need and will install a circuit breaker that allows only that much current to reach the houses. Any illegal tap or other excessive consumption will trip the circuit breaker, cutting off power to all four or five houses, giving the community an incentive to work together to prevent excess consumption.

There are many other power generation projects based on rice husk. Some of them are:
  • Agni Energy Services, Hyderabad
  • BHEL in Punjab
  • Nahar Spinning
  • Shivalik Power & steel, Chattisgarh
  • Kalindi Power, Chattisgarh
  • Vandana Vidyut, Chattisgarh
  • Indo Lahari, Chattisgarh
  • Laxmi Rice Mills, Punjab
  • Ankur Scientific Energy,
  • Hindustan Motors, West Bengal
  • Usher Agro Ltd,Utthar Pradesh
  • Amrit Bio Energy and Industries,West Bengal
  • Non Conventional Energy Development Corporation of AP
  • IISc, a research project
Main difference between these projects and HPS project is that HPS is purely based on rice husk where as the rest of those companies use other fuels as well. Moreover, all of them are supported by government, but not HPS project. Complete details on HPS project is available in this ppt file. A video is shooted in the village to have some comments from the villagers.


Goli said...

this is a very interesting story, but I was just wondering how does it compare with other alternatives.

I have also linked this story on NGOpost, so that more people can read it.

ranjit said...

Can u send few more details regarding power production by using rice husk.

Jogi said...

Thanks for sharing the information. It was really useful.

Praveen said...

Thanks for the information. It was really useful.