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Husk Power Systems is a for-profit (which I read as economically sustainable) company using rice husks, a form of agricultural waste, to power rural India.

You can see their company website Here, and their PopTech presentation Here.

There are several reasons I really like this project:
1. It's economically sustainable. They make a profit by powering rural India. This means they have possibility for lots of growth.
2: They hire locally, in India, creating jobs and adding to the economy
3: It is a sustainable power source, using something grown all the time and that would otherwise go to waste.

This seems like it has a big advantage over things like solar power for the developing world, since it can be totally made locally and it doesn't seem to require fancy technologies. I wonder though how it works. Do they burn the rice husks? That would be harmful for the environment if so. I can't find anywhere where they say how it works, though. Can any of you find anything?

Views: 70

Comment by Brian Ballsun-Stanton on March 20, 2010 at 2:35am
This seems to be a paper on it. I'm skeptical about the break-even points of biomass power generation. Seems like we're getting something for nothing.
Comment by Jonathan Osborne on March 23, 2010 at 5:53pm
Hmm yeah it seems like an inefficient way of harnessing solar power (essentially what you're doing with plants). And the effects on the soil or water table can be pretty detrimental.
Comment by Amos Meeks on March 23, 2010 at 11:03pm
You are both right.

They are definitely not getting something for nothing. They are taking energy that would have gone into the soil, and then probably into future crops, and turning it into electrical energy. I myself don't know if this is dangerous to do, whether it will adversely affect crops, etc.

It is essentially what you're doing with plants, and also with fossil fuels, wind power, and even solar power. The thing is though, there is so much solar power out there in so many forms that it's really pretty okay to harness it, even if it is an inefficient way to harness the sun's power (Do you eat meat? That's really just an inefficient way of harnessing the energy of a bunch of plants, which is really just an inefficient way of using the sun's energy.

Until we start worrying about trying to build a Dyson Sphere I think we're going to have to deal with inefficiently using the sun's energy.


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