Monday, June 9, 2008

Small solutions for big challenges - THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS
Posted online: Monday , June 09, 2008 at 2144 hrs IST

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Small solutions for big challenges

While the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change is giving final touches to the draft policy on climate change, innovators at the grassroots are coming up with solutions to tap into renewable energy resources and designing energy efficient devices.

Such innovators are even getting global recognition for their initiatives. Two Indian organisations—Aryavart Gramin Bank and Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE)—are amongst the finalists of this year’s prestigious Ashden Awards to be presented by former US President Al Gore in London later this month. The awards recognise local and sustainable energy resources.

The Aryavart Gramin Bank in UP promotes PV solar-home-systems amongst its customers, who lack access to grid power. Says bank chairman Anil Jain, “It’s the largest such initiative in the world that does not offer subsidy.”

Bangalore-based TIDE has developed energy-efficient woodstoves and kilns for use in industries like textile dyeing and manufacture of ayurvedic medicines. Says TIDE secretary Svati Bhogle, “We are keen to explore avenues for scaling up now.”

They are not alone in leading India’s innovation charge. Charles Ransler and Manoj Sinha of Husk Power Systems have designed proprietary technology to produce electric power from rice husk, which is agricultural residue from rice milling, and are electrifying two villages in Bihar.

Some initiatives are still under development. Hyderadad’s Energy Conservation Mission has developed Prakruti power pedal station for charging a laptop, mobile, fan and TV. Says convener C V Rao, “We will launch an advanced version on August 15 this year.”

Similarly, Geoecology Energy Organisation has come up with cheap and energy efficient stoves, which run on waste. Says founder & CEO N Sai Bhaskar Reddy, “Our stoves not only run on waste, but can be even made with waste like throwaway CPUs.”

While they have yet to pass the crucial tests of scalability and replication, Selco India has already sold one lakh solar electric units in Bangalore during the last ten years. Selco is promoting adoption of solar electric units by focussing on affordable financing, distribution and maintenance. The target is two lakh systems in the next three years, says co-founder & MD Harsh Hande, who has become a role model for alternative energy entrepreneurs.

The list of such examples is long. It’s a little wonder that the recent Emerging Economy Report from the Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS) says that India is not only the most energy efficient emerging Economy but also a leader in energy innovation.


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