Have you ever thought how boring and dull your lives would be without electricity? With a world that we’re accustomed to, it would be hard to without electricity even for few minutes. But do you know that there are people in India who have no access to electricity and have been living this way for decades? Researches show that 70% of India’s population lives in the countryside scattered among 80,000 villages, several of which are located in inaccessible locations and rugged terrain. It goes without saying that most of these villages exist with an extremely low and irregular electricity supply. The villagers depend on kerosene and diesel powered generators. While there are many without any source of electricity, Manoj Sinha grew up reading next to a gas lamp, even travelling miles to an electrical supply.
Manoj Sinha was haunted by an energy starved childhood and dreamed of bringing power to rural villages. Fortunately, at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Daren School of Business, he found others who shared his vision. Manoj teamed with fellow students while earning a master’s of business administration. . Together with Charles Ransler and Gyanesh Pandey, Manoj formed Husk Power Systems (HPS). This novel venture of theirs burns agricultural waste into low cost electricity. They also won the grand prize in the 2008 Dell Social Innovation Challenge.
HPS was started with single power plant in 2007 with a 100% biomass-powered plant when the team electrified its first village Bihar, the home state of Manoj and Gyanesh. Proprietary technology is used by the company to convert a plentiful resource, discarded rice husks into electricity. They won several accolades for their initiative including: Social Entrepreneurs of the years in 2008 by FastCompany, Shell Foundation Grant and the team members were named Pop!Tech Fellows. Their growth has been enormous.
Husk Power Systems has trained and employed more than 300 local people. It already operates about 85 power plants reaching 375 villages and has saved $1.25 million for the household it serves. They aim to install more than 2,000 plants and recruiting 7, 500 people from village over the coming years. Funding from the Africa Enterprise Channel Fund will guarantee installation of up to 20 plants in rural Tanzania and a pilot project of Five power plants in Uganda.