A Green Oscar for India?
As many as two Indian projects – one in Kerala and the other in Karnataka, have been short-listed (amongst ten other projects) for the Ashden awards for sustainable energy. These awards are dubbed as the Green Oscars and it’s a matter of pride that two Indian projects are amongst the finalists.
The other countries that have projects shortlisted are Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru, Philippines and Tanzania.
Actually, its not surprising that India is at the forefront of these awards. Producing bio-fuels is something that India has an expertise in. Not only is this industry a fairly well developed one here, there are educational institutions with training courses to provide technical assistance. Today in India, its not just biogas technologies, but also other alternate energy sources such as the wind and the sun which are used to provide energy. The focus today is on making methods economically viable by roping in the private sector. India in fact plans to become a global leader in new and renewable energy technologies.
Coming to the projects which are finalists for the Ashden awards – the company in Kerala, Bio-tech, converts food waste into energy and the Karnataka firm SKG Sangha produces bio-gas from dung. Biotech’s energy has been used to produce gas for cooking and even electricity for lighting purposes. Out of Bio-tech’s 12,000 domestic plants (individual households use their own waste to run these and make a profit) 160 use human waste from eco-friendly latrines to avoid contamination of ground water! They also have 220 institutional and muncipal plants which convert waste collected from markets to generate power.
SKG Sangha’s bio-gas has supplied cooking gas to thousands of rural families in Karnataka as well as fertilizer/vermin compost.
These ventures have also generated economic sustenance for the poor, not just to save the cost of running their home, but also by selling the extra fertilizer/gas generated. SKG Sangha has over 43,000 biogas plants in Karnataka.
Just how does a bio-gas plant at home help? This is how:
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.
And the other obvious benefit? A clean and healthy environment.
(Photo from Ashden)