Husk Power Systems (HPS), a rural electrification company in Bihar engaged in generating electricity from rice husks using biomass gasification technology has been granted a second round of support from Shell Foundation.
HPS owns and operates 35-100 kW “mini power-plants” which delivers electricity as a pay-for-use service to villages of 2,000 to 4,000 inhabitants in the Indian Rice Belt – North Bihar. Each plant becomes profitable operationally in the first six months of operations. HPS has successfully implemented projects in 50 villages in Bihar and will expand its footprint to 100 villages in 2009, 400 in 2010, and 2000 in 2012.
This second round of support from Shell Foundation will certainly help deliver more power plants, increase the operational and technical capacity of the company and develop the Husk Power Systems brand in India and the US. Shell Foundation has been a partner to Husk Power Systems since November 2008, providing ongoing business development assistance and technical support.
Rice husks (the casing on the outside of rice grains) have traditionally been discarded however, upon heating, rice husk releases gas which in turn HPS uses to run modified diesel engines to generate electricity. The waste product of the process is high in silica and can be sold to concrete manufacturers. This business model has also been awarded the first prize in the 2009 Global Business Plan Competition by leading global venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco.
As per Shell Foundation’s analysis, more than 40% of the Indian population, or rather more than 1.25 lakhs villages have no access to reliable electricity. The existing energy options in rural communities such as diesel generator sets and kerosene lanterns are polluting, prohibitively expensive, and logistically difficult to disseminate. Those villages with access to electricity are often subject to frequent power cuts and shortages in power supply. This becomes a major deterrent in the economic development of the affected communities and indeed India as a whole.
Husk Power Systems is using unique technology and processes to tackle the rural energy deficit in India in an environmentally and commercially sustainable way. They are proving that rural Indian communities are willing and able to pay for reliable electricity and that Bihar represents a viable market to deliver modern energy services. The Husk Power Systems team has surpassed Shell Foundation’s expectations as a result of which the foundation has took a step further and with a second round of financing required to lay the groundwork for a wider scaling up of operations of HPS.
The first round of Shell Foundation financing enabled HPS in providing access to energy for 15 villages and critical improvements to scale up business. HPS would also need the people and resources in order to become an important player in the Indian rural power market.”
The company which has set up 10 plants is creating new job opportunities locally in Bihar. HPS is currently looking for 3 RM’s to oversee 35-50 plants each, dozens of mid-level managers i.e. Fresher Mechanical Engineers, Talented Fresher Management Trainees & Experienced Project Managers above all this HPS is also looking for close to 100 field workers mainly skilled mechanical technicians from local technical schools. As the company scale up, it will hire hundreds of employees – most of them coming from Bihar. Candidates will be trained at their training facility where they will be provided skill based trainings primarily in large engine repair and maintenance, facility management, and continuous improvement processes. The information is very well available at www.huskpowersystems.com.
Shell Foundation aims to help small enterprises with modern energy services for the poor in ways that are financially viable and scalable through a combination of direct investments and support of intermediary organizations.