Friday, May 25, 2007

Indian Ashden Award Finalists

After the Energy Globe awards, it is not time for the Ashden Awards for sustainable energy projects, and two Indian organizations are in the running.

Regardless of whether they actually win the awards or not, it is certainly worth looking at what they are doing. Interestingly both organizations work in the area of producing bio-gas.

Biotech, Kerala

Biotech operates in Kerala and works on generating bio-gas from a variety of organic waste. They have working plants that produce gas from toilet waste, household and restaurant waste food, abattoirs, and fish markets. They target middle-class households, as well as unorganized small establishments. The efforts help in a model of sustainability that treats waste at source, promotes hygiene, is environmentally friendly and is economically viable.

"To date BIOTECH has built and installed 12,000 domestic plants, 220 institutional plants and 17 municipal plants that uses waste from the municipal fish markets to produce biogas which is then used in a 3kW engine to generate electricity for lighting the market.

"Households with a biogas plant replace about 30% of LPG or about 44 kg per year, saving Rs1,200 per year. This means that the family can pay back their contribution to the cost of the plant in about three years, and even more quickly if they collect extra food waste from shops to increase their biogas production. The effluent or residue in the biogas plant also makes good fertiliser which results in higher food production."

SKG Sangha, Karnataka

SKG Sangha, operates among rural households in Karnataka selling 'Deenbandhu', a standard model of a cow-dung based biogas plant, working with banks to help finance the plants for their generally poor customers. They have over 43,000 installations so far, which probably compares with the best in the world. That itself is a decent achievement because each plant probably saves 4 tonnes of CO2 a year. More importantly it saves 3.5 tonnes of fuel wood a year. (I know the second number looks huge... does the average rural household really use that much fuel wood?) Anyway, the fuelwood saving results in health and time savings for the rural users, as well as precious breathers for the forests.

However, the benefits to the farmers goes beyond that.

"SKGS has devised an innovative way of using the slurry produced by the biogas plant as an effective fertiliser that has the added benefit of earning rural women a good income... SKGS's vermi-composting system involves mixing the slurry with solid waste (straw, green and dried leaves) and then leaving it to compost for 25 days. The mix is then placed in a container with earthworms, which produces a high quality fertiliser for which people will pay Rs90 (£1) for a 30kg bag. The fertiliser increases grain crop (rice and ragi) yields by 20% and increases the resistance of crops to pests and diseases."

All the finalists

Biotech and SKGS are just two of the finalists, and the entire list is here. Please do click on the link and check out all 10 finalists - they all make for interesting reading.

The Awards Ceremony

Representatives from all finalists will travel to London for the awards ceremony on June 21. Al Gore (who obviously needs no introduction here) will give out the prizes.

Related post:
Energy Globe 2006 - The Winners From India