Rathinam College
Vol 5 Issue 16, Apr 18 - 24, 2014
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Channelizing a destructive energy for constructive use did not happen so easily

   By  Kavita Kanan Chandra
  
24 Apr 2014
Posted 09-Nov-2012
Vol 3 Issue 45

None imagined that the ‘destructive’ pine needles which caused massive forest fires in the central Himalayan region of Uttarakhand would someday be spoken of as a source of electricity.

But one man, Rajnish Jain, dreamt that he could channelize the destructive energy of the pine needles into constructive use.

Rajnish has plans to install 20 power plants in next five years using pine needles

Rajnish, who was working for rural development through his organization ‘Avani’ in Berinag village in Pithoragarh district, has developed the technology to use the pine needles for a biomass gasifier to generate electricity. 

The power plant he has set up produces 9 KW of electricity and is seen as a major technological breakthrough that could go a long way in controlling forest fires in the region, besides producing electricity to meet local needs and providing jobs for the people.

Since the mid 1990’s, Rajnish has been engaged in various rural development programs, capacity building, solar energy projects and livelihood generation programs for the local population.

His wife Rashmi, co-founder of Avani was always by his side. As chairperson of the producers’ cooperative which is into making natural fibre, naturally dyed silk and woolen textiles, she plays an active role in rural empowerment.

“It was the forest fires that made us take notice of pine needles as a potential source of energy,” said Rajnish.

There are large tracts of pine forests in Uttarakhand and these trees shed a lot of pine needles during summer. These pine needles, which catch fire easily in hot conditions, have destroyed huge forests.

Rajnish said people tried making charcoal from pine needles but that did not take off since the village folks were not willing to pay for it, as fuel – read firewood - was readily available in the forest.

Women collecting pine needles

The idea of using biomass gasification as a technology for generating electricity hit Rajnish when someone spoke about the potential of pine needles as a feedstock for gasifier in a conference on renewable energy. 

When he shared the thought with the villagers, everyone laughed at the idea. But he let his logic overrule all doubts and scepticism. He knew that pine needles had tremendous energy and biomass gasification was the right technology to harness its tapped energy.

There were few operational problems, though. It took them three years to address the technical issues and get the project up and running. The result was a 9kw plant that could meet the needs of about hundred people.

Rajnish said the pine needles are slender and approximately 25 cm in length. The collection from 1-2 hectares of forest could provide electricity to fifty people and provide quality charcoal for cooking to five people.

The burning of pine needles in the gasifier produces gas which drives an alternator that generates electricity.

Generating electricity from pine needles would have a ripple effect on the village economy.

Villagers would collect pine needles and they would get paid for it. The forests would be cleared of pine needles thus reducing the chances of fire to a large extent, and the rural youth would be trained to operate the power plants.

Rajnish recalls how it was the call of the serene Himalayas that prompted him and his wife to shift base to Himalayas and start the Kumaon chapter of the Barefoot College (at Tilonia, Rajasthan).

He is from Haryana and his wife Rashmi is from Delhi but they chose to work in the inaccessible villages nestled in the fragile eco-system of Himalayas.

A forest fire

This region didn’t have access to government schemes and most youth migrated to plains in search of job opportunities. It prompted the couple to use their skills in rural development for the benefit of the locals. 

Rajnish has plans to install 20 power plants in next five years, each having capacity to generate 100-150 KW of electricity.

He says that an average rural household’s consumption for electricity is low, so each power plant could easily supply electricity to 1000-2000 households in the hills.

Rajnish is optimistic that the pine needles would become a catalyst for change and they would generate about 2000 jobs, restore 4000 hectares of biodiversity, and earn around 60000 carbon credits annually.  



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   

You might also like:

Don’t be gay!

The union home ministry takes the fight into the gay camp as it tells the Supreme Court that Section 377 of the IPC is needed to check cases of child sex abuse and other unnatural offences

Read More

King of fruit

The mango festival in Bhopal witnessed a collection of mangos of all shapes and sizes, and tastes and flavours. One mango that stole the show weighed 3.5 kg, making it India’s largest

Read More

Stephen Cars
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
TWL Campaign



Popular Stories

Benign borrow

Entire India will soon come under the cover of Arogya Finance that lends money for the poor to go for medical treatment. Supported by social venture funds, Arogya is in nine States and has helped over 400 persons, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Pet project

‘Rickshaw Bank’ is a project that helps rickshaw pullers. It was born out of a conversation Pradip Kumar Sarmah, a veterinarian, who had taken animal health care to rural areas in Assam, had with a rickshaw puller, says Souzeina S Mushtaq

Read More

Power of waste

Namakkal in Tamil Nadu is known for poultry, among other things. But not many know of a poultry owner generating electricity from chicken droppings, whose disposal was once a headache. P C Vinoj Kumar explains the innovation and the business

Read More

Action cop

His was a career dedicated to fight graft, through unconventional methods. Now the former cop is advisor to the anti-corruption cell of Aam Aadmi Party. Souzeina S Mushtaq profiles N Dilip Kumar, called as ‘action hero’ by a news magazine

Read More

Natives’ return

The return of Sabbah Haji and her family to their hometown in Kashmir’s Doda district has helped local children as the school started in 2009 is still growing. Afsana Rashid finds the school running with the help of volunteers from outside

Read More

Short and strong

Joby Mathew stands 3 feet, 5 inches tall. But he has beaten men taller than him in arm wrestling and won even the world championship. Kavita Kanan Chandra finds that hard work, discipline and determination are the secrets behind his success

Read More

At the grassroots

A group of social workers in the temple town of Kanchipuram meet every week to chart their down to earth projects. All of them teetotalers, not by scheme, they work at the grassroots level but seek no external aid. P C Vinoj Kumar meets them

Read More

Bangalore 15

Besides being a cosmopolitan city, which is a bustling IT hub, also known for fine weather, Bangalore has more for a visitor, says Sudha Narasimhachar, giving a list of 15 must visit places

Read More

Mountain girl

In the chilly heights of Ladakh, Thinlas Chorol stands out as a social entrepreneur, trekking guide, ice hockey player and a writer rolled into one. Her remarkable role is changing the face of tourism up there, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Water Wheel

Fetching water takes such considerable time for rural women that they expend most of their time and energy on that. But ‘Water Wheel’, a recent innovation, is ushering a change in the lives of women in some villages, says Souzeina S Mushtaq

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.