“Husk Power Systems designs, installs and operates biomass-based power plants. Each plant uses proprietary gasification technology to convert abundant agricultural residue (procured from local farmers) into electricity, which is then distributed to rural households and micro-enterprises through a micro-grid system – providing a better quality, cheaper way to meet their need for energy.

HPS creates an ecosystem around each plant by providing income generation opportunities to local farmers and entrepreneurs. Additionally, it creates employment through its livelihood programmes such as the incense stick manufacturing program which largely employs women. This enables sustainable development within the communities HPS serves. Since 2008, HPS has successfully installed more than 80 plants in Bihar, providing electricity to over 200,000 people across 300 villages and hamlets.”

Husk Power Systems
YouTube (Thanks to Jay)
Related article recommended by Jay: From Darkness to Light (success story of a remote Indian village transformed by electricity from Husk Power Systems)
Note: Oftentimes all available rice hulls are used for making potting soil, compost and other agricultural uses. This boosts agricultural output and efficiently returns the biomass to the earth. Burning biomass to produce electricity is most efficient where there’s a large surplus that would otherwise not be utilized. I’ve seen photos of mountains of rice hulls going to waste. As reported earlier, rice hulls also make excellent insulation and are used in residential and commercial rice hull stoves and gasifiers.


Comments

Husk Power Systems — 6 Comments

  1. Jay, excellent list, on the Alternative Systems front and on the Sources of Energy for Generation of Power front. And yes, local resources and needs can guide which generation fuels/methods are selected. Generating power and building methods to reduce the need traditional amounts of heating and cooling–good lists!

  2. Jerry:

    I agree with you for the most part.

    I would add wind turbines, micro-hydro, and biodiesel to the options. What choices are appropriate vary depending upon the resources available in each location and situation.

    In an ideal system, wind, solar, and micro hydro provide the primary source of power, and some combination of biogas, syngas, and biodiesel provide backup power for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

    Such ideal situations have a range of options available so that if any one or two options is unavailable for some reason, the other systems can take up the slack.

    Of course, not every situation is ideal. In fact, almost no situation is ideal. My point is that it makes sense to diversify.

    Don’t forget other natural/alternative systems that can drastically reduce the energy demands on these systems.

    Insulate structures extremely well.
    Shade structures in hot climates.
    Plant vegetation for wind breaks.
    Passive Solar design.
    Solar cookers.
    Wood stoves for cooking and heating backup.

    Active Solar thermal systems can provide hot water, and even hydronic space heating.

    All of these systems can be built by Do-It-Yourselfers. The information is out there to not only assemble the components for these systems, but to build the components themselves for pennies on the dollar.

    It will take time and effort, but anything worthwhile takes that.

    It is very achievable for anyone willing to put in the time and hard work to be completely energy independent for the rest of their lives.

    Couple that with a mortgage free DIY pay as you build home, a permaculture ethic with a food forest garden, and you have the beginnings of a wonderful lifestyle, nearly free of any need to spend money for the basic necessities of life.

    About the only things one need spend money on are phone/internet/data, and luxury items.

  3. Clearly there are at least two ways to go for decentralized power production: biomass to syngas to combustion engine generation of electrical current OR solar panel generation of electrical current. I like the work of both Selco (solar generation) and Husk Power Systems (biomass fueling generation)–there are pros and cons for each. I like how Selco has worked to make their solar package affordable and I like that HPS has done the same, and used an often going to waste resource–rice hulls–for their fuel source.

    My point really is that, as Dr. Polak and others have said, there are ways to bring the benefits of technology to those on the bottom of the pyramid if that is the goal and sound business planning guides the use of target population appropriate pricing and distribution models. While they may be competitors, I am inspired by both companies for powering up the homes and shops of the poor, and doing it in a sustainable way.

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