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Updated: May 25, 2012 14:44 IST

Lighting up lives

Sujay Mehdudia
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Non-conventional energy: A husk power plant in Champaran. Photo: Preeti Mehra
Non-conventional energy: A husk power plant in Champaran. Photo: Preeti Mehra

Husk power plants in Bihar will now guzzle less water and churn out cheaper electricity

Efforts to promote renewable energy as an alternative to electrify rural India got a fillip with Alstom Foundation announcing a 90,000 euro grant to upgrade 65 existing power plants in the underserved districts of Bihar that generate electricity from husk. A significant portion of the grant will be used in finalising a dry gasification process for low-cost manufacturing and retro-fitting these dry gasifiers at the plants. The immediate positive impact of implementing the system would be dramatic reduction in water usage — by almost 80 per cent — and also reduce operational cost considerably.

The grant is part of the Dry Gasifier project launched in India by Alstom Foundation in collaboration with US-based Husk Power Systems (HPS), one of the world's providers of biomass-based renewable energy equipment at very low prices.

The low operational cost at the husk plants would directly translate to lower unit price for customers who get electricity from the HPS power plants. The project will also create employment opportunities, thereby fuelling the local economy by renewable energy. It would also enable the HPS to scale up faster and light up more off-grid villages.

Stating that the Alstom Foundation strives at initiating projects that combine economic development, social progress and environmental protection, Sunand Sharma — country president of Alstom India and South Asia — said, “Thanks to such programmes, we at Alstom are able to reach out to different communities and at the same time fulfil our goals.”

The objective of this initiative is to meet the energy requirements of the rural population by bridging the funding gap required for the rural electrification business. Presently, 125,000 Indian villages lack access to reliable power. The government has designated 18,000 of these villages as economically unviable to reach via conventional means. Without electricity, the villagers lack basic education and healthcare infrastructure required in modern life which impedes their economic and social development.

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