Husk Power wins The Ashden Awards
Husk Power Systems has won this year’s International Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy. The prestigious award was made at an official ceremony in London, England recently. Husk Power Systems (HPS) is a rural electrification company in Bihar which generates electricity through the gasification of rice husk, an abundant agricultural waste product found throughout India’s rice belt. The company competed with seven other finalists from Africa, India and Pakistan for prize money of over £120,000 as Ashden continued its ten-year tradition of shining a spotlight on the most effective innovations in the provision of sustainable energy across the world.
In the last two years, HPS has been working with Shell Foundation to scale-up operations to bring affordable electricity to many more rural villages in Bihar. Shell Foundation’s support has helped the fledgling company to refine its business model and apply entrepreneurial thinking to India’s huge energy deficit. This partnership has now resulted in the creation of over 60 gasification plants – providing over 1.5 lac households with access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity. HPS aim to serve more than 5000 villages, save 750,000 tons of CO2, create 7,000 local jobs and generate savings of US$50M in cash for 5 million people (by replacing kerosene and diesel with renewable energy) by 2014.
Gyanesh Pandey, CEO of Husk Power Systems said: "Winning the Ashden Awards is a big achievement for Husk Power Systems. Almost a third of India’s population have no access to electricity and the role of energy is vital in catalysing economic development in India. HPS is now scaling rapidly with a goal of reaching over 2000 plants by 2014. We’ve adopted a new business model to expand effectively and efficiently, and this international recognition will certainly be a source of inspiration for everyone who is – and will be – involved."
Anuradha Bhavnani, Regional Director at Shell Foundation, said: " Over 125,000 villages in India are not connected with the electricity grid. Existing options like kerosene lanterns and diesel generators are expensive, difficult to disseminate in remote areas and negatively affect air quality, thus contributing to indoor air pollution. Our partnership with HPS is about creating a financially-viable and scalable way to provide the poorest with access to modern energy services. It is fantastic that they have won the Ashden Awards so soon."
Many homes have access to energy for the first time in their lives. The electricity is sold on ‘pay as you go’ basis to local communities with a single connection costing around Rs.100 a month.
A New model: In order to impact the maximum number of people in the least time, HPS is pursuing ‘Operating Partnership’ and ‘Franchising’ models to set up new plants and create employment opportunities. In the "Operating Partnership" model, HPS partners with a local entrepreneur who pays one partnership fee (around 15% of equipment costs) and then a fixed recurring monthly fee for the right to operate a plant. HPS trains the operating team, bearing the cost of service and any major repairs of the machinery. This model targets small Diesel Genset operators and young entrepreneurs from local villages. In the ‘Franchise Model’, HPS sells power plant equipment to partners, including technical and business training to buyers and their team. To ensure successful operation, HPS transfers technical and operational knowledge to buyers whilst charging a nominal fee to provide maintenance and repair service.