Adyar Bakery - since 1952
Vol 5 Issue 39, Sep 26 - Oct 2, 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
  
30 Sep 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:

Cool potter

Refrigeration without electricity may sound incredible. But Mansukhbhai Prajapati has invented an eco-friendly cooler without letting his lack of formal education come in the way of his determination. Kavita Kanan Chandra meets the potter

Read More

A role model

For local girls, Shama Khan is the role model. The 28-year-old panchayat chief strives to provide what is scarce in Thar: Water and woman’s education. Due to her efforts, enrolment has gone up from 550 to 6,550 in two years, says Renu Rakesh
 

Read More

IEYS 2014
FPJs Meet Vidyaakar
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Tender idea

One reason carbonated soft drinks score over tender coconut is the packaging. A new machine innovated by Vinod Mahadeviah, which breaks and instantly cools tender coconuts, may make the natural drink more popular, feels Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Milky way

The denial of visa shattered his dream to study in the land of milk and honey. But Bhasker Reddy managed to squeeze honey out of milk in India by starting a dairy business in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the first generation entrepreneur

Read More

The challenger

It challenged the idea of Ice Bucket Challenge itself. Manju Latha Kalanidhi, a journo from Hyderabad, changed the course of a charity wave, turning it more relevant to Indian context. Akash Bisht spoke to the Rice Bucket Challenge pioneer

Read More

Sounds good

A device to detect hearing impairment in newborns will hit the market by 2016. Afsana Rashid spoke to designer Neeti Kailas, who explains how her innovation will help children born with hearing disability by facilitating an early intervention

Read More

Being the change

At an age of 28, Arun Daniel Yellamaty is already a known social worker, whose Youngistaan Foundation is into a plethora of activities in Hyderabad. P C Vinoj Kumar finds out from the former journalist how he changes the life of urban poor

Read More

Versatile rubber

Making use of rubber’s versatility, some scientists in Bhubaneswar have developed a ‘rubberised’ check dam. Kavita Kanan Chandra checks out the benefits of replacing concrete and cement with rubber and where all the new technology is going

Read More

Beautiful dream

Creating 3000 salons, 1000 women entrepreneurs and 50,000 jobs by 2020 is the dream of C K Kumaravel, who, despite hailing from a business family, had to start on his own. P C Vinoj Kumar traces the growth of Naturals beauty salons founder

Read More

Touching base

New York-born Ajaita Shah once applied for fellowship to work in India. Then she came back and also launched Frontier Markets to serve base of the pyramid households. Souzeina S Mushtaq spoke to the 29-year-old who knows the needs of villages

Read More

Donor par excellence

P Kalyansundaram, who donated his lifetime salary for charity, has inspired social workers in Tamil Nadu for years. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the happy man whose name is synonymous with simplicity

Read More

People’s doctor

Dr V Shanta heads the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Active even at 87 years, she talks to Manasa Ramraj about her childhood inspiration, adding: ‘Doctors must learn to treat their patients as human beings and not as mere commodities.’

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.