[Round Two Winner: 3/8] Rajnish Jain – AVANI: Caring for the Earth

Posted By: Rise Team|Dated: January 27, 2012

How do you turn the problem of forest fires in the Himalayan region into energy for rural India, 2K jobs, 4K acres of restored biodiversity and 60K carbon credits annually? Check out how Rajnish is doing it.

As you watch this you will notice a few things:

  • How we came up with the idea of how to give back to his community by looking at problems around him: forest fires.
  • The different solutions that other people were trying, and why they weren’t working.
  • How he came up with a sustainable solution by giving the prevention of forest fires an economic value—making it profitable for participants, without charity.

Tell us about you and your project.

I live and work in Uttarakhand, in the central Himalayan region. My project is about generating electricity and cooking charcoal from pine coal needles. We run a 9 kilowatt gasifier system, which generates enough power for 100 people, and over the next 5 years, we will set up 20 such power plants generating 2.4 megawatts of power, providing for 12 million people, generating 2,000 jobs, restoring 4,000 acres of biodiversity, and 60,000 carbon credits annually.

He thought of how he could make his solution stick – how to make it sustainable, by creating incentives for people to do it.

 What is the problem you are solving?

What was distressing to see every year is the forest fires—that’s when we started exploring what can be done: to stop these fires, and there’s so much energy there, how can we use that?

What was your main constraint?

This can only be done if we can give it an economic value, we cannot remove the pine needles, which are the major cause of forest fires—we had to do something with the pine needles so that there is a push to remove them.

Notice how he didn’t reinvent the wheel; instead, he saw what was already being done in the field (by attending renewable energy conferences), and adapted one of those solutions.

What were some solutions you came across?

There were people who were doing charcoal with pine needles, but that wasn’t really sustainable because they were using a lot of soil or cow dung as a binding material for doing those briquettes. Also, people were not willing to give money for fuel because there is fuel in the forest, so those projects never succeeded.

Trial and error for the right solution…

In one of the renewable energy conferences, I heard somebody talk about gasifiers, the potential of using pine needles as a feed stock for gasifiers. Soon we hit the wall because we realized the density is too low, we can’t use this material. We were told, practically don’t waste your time and our time, it won’t work. So we started working on very simple techniques for reducing density of the material, which is just crush it—it was that simple.

A sustainable solution

It took us about 2 years to address all those issues with the technology, with people’s mindsets, until we had our gasifier plant generating electricity continuously.

Visit http://www.sparktherise.com/projectdetail.php?pid=4238  to learn more about harnessing the destructive energy of pine needles for rural energy needs.

http://www.sparktherise.com - A platform to propel innovation, entrepreneurship, and positive change in India.

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  • Deepakrathore89

    nice innovation