Rice = food and electricity at the same time... photo: ya po guille via flickr.
One solution for getting clean electricity to the 440-some million people in rural India who currently don't have grid power (or any power...) is to build wind farms, solar power plants, or use some decentralized but still tech-heavy option such as solar panels. And then there's rice husks and biomass gasification. Not a new technology, but one the Economic Times reports Husk Power Systems is taking advantage of to transform agricultural waste into power:Currently HPS supplies electricity to over 50,000 people in 50 off-grid villages throughout the state of Bihar -- an area with particularly high levels of poverty and low levels of development. By 2012 HPS hopes to expand into 2000 villagers, HPS reports.
Rice husks are traditionally discarded, but when used in biomass gasification 1.5 kilogram yields about 1 kWh of electricity. Each "mini power plant" is 35-100 kilowatts in capacity and is connected to a small distribution grid tailored to each village.
The exact rate the villagers pay for the electricity has been kept confidential by HPS, other than saying that the cost is about half of what would be spent on kerosene and diesel fuel for generators and lanterns.
More info: Husk Power Systems
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