Goindocal: Husk Power Systems (HPS), founded in 2008 by Gyanesh Pandey and Ratnesh Yadav, with over 85 plants of 40 kilowatt capacity is lighting more than 35,000 economically poor households in rural Bihar.
For a state like Bihar, which face acute power shortage and the situation is more grim in rural part, the power generated from agri waste, in this case it is Rice Husk, is revolutionizing the rural landscape. Eight hour of power supply and that at lowest cost; Rs 2.20 per watt, solves dual purpose of power shortage and does not have the environmental and health hazards posed by kerosene.
In state like Bihar, where per capita income is abysmally low and per capita consumption of electricity is below the average of sub-Saharan countries, this kind of effort from Husk Duo Pandey and Yadav is really commendable.
As 40 kilowatt HPS plant costs around $30,000 and provides electricity for 500 village households for around six to eight hours daily this could be emulated across the country, with some changes in waste composition depending on availability of agri-waste.
Pandey, a an electrical engineer from the Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University, said in an interview, “More importantly, it is unlikely that other companies will supply electricity at such low volumes and for just Rs. 50 or Rs. 100 per household.”
His school friend and Delhi University graduate Ratnesh Yadav said, “If we can’t offer power at these units and these price points, we will not be relevant to our target customers.”
Pandey went US to study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and then worked in Los Angeles with International Rectifier, a semiconductor firm. He returned to Bihar in early 2007 and started exploring various options in the power sector with Yadav.
The high silica content in rice husk makes it useless for animal and household for fuel. It mostly goes waste in farms, so using Husk for power generation was like two edged sword. The duo successfully converted rice husk into combustible gas and then used this gas to produce electricity through a generator.
Boosted by the social benefits at least cost, HPS plans to expand its network and by 2014 aims to have 2,000 plants in the state. However, scaling the 40 kilowatt plant in such a big number will a big challenge for the Husk Man.