Tech Inspirations

Avani Bio Energy

Avani Bio Energy Need

In Uttarakhand, India, seasonal power shortages and hilly terrain create a very unreliable supply of electricity in the area. People frequently use kerosene, which is expensive and highly damaging to health and the environment. Additionally, pine forests are expanding rapidly in the area, pushing other species out, which decreases biodiversity and significantly increases the number of pine needles that help spread fires. These fires destroy local agriculture, grazing ground, and natural resources, adversely affecting the livelihood of low-income families in the area.

Succeed Jamuna Devi lives in Chachret, a remote village in the Central Himalayan Region in India, with her husband and three children. She walks four miles every day collecting fuel wood, before she can cook a meal for her family. Jamuna recounts that she walks longer every year to collect fuel, and her family faces shortage of water for their daily life and fodder for her cattle. Her family also does not have a permanent source of income and their very existence in their village is at stake. Multiply this by 2.4 million families (12 million people) and the situation looks scary.

Come summer months, the forest around her village rages with fire spread by carpet of pine needles – the needle shaped leaves of pine tree. The forest fire destroys the bio diversity and diminishes the ecosystem services – water, herbs, timber etc. that her family is dependent on the forest for. While, the fire destroys the life around her, Jamuna Devi wonders if all this energy could be used to meet her and 2.4 million other such families’ energy needs.

One man, Rajnish Jain, dreamt of harnessing this destructive energy in pine needles for rural energy needs. He tried a very unconventional approach of generating electricity from pine needles and set up a 9 KW power plant which runs on pine needles. Subsequently, he went on to incorporate Avani Bio Energy for scaling this idea and set up a 120 KW power plant in Chachret village. Avani Bio Energy employs people in the villages to collect these fallen pine needles before they burn, and converts this destructive biomass into clean and affordable energy for rural needs, thus reducing carbon emissions, regenerating biodiversity and above all creating jobs in the villages. Electricity is generated through gasification of pine needles and the residual charcoal is briquetted. While these briquettes meet cooking energy needs in the villages, reliable supply of electricity will create facilities for an entrepreneurial ecosystem in rural areas, creating a positive impact at every stage of the value chain.

Success Story AVANI began its work in 1997 by developing solar energy usage in the Central Himalayan region. Since, AVANI has supported the development of sustainable livelihoods through various capacity building approaches with appropriate technology. Also, the use of traditional craft for empowerment of rural communities. To date, AVANI projects include the dissemination of solar technology, water resource management, as well as natural textiles and paints. The focus of AVANI is on social and economic development of rural communities with projects regarding health care and micro-finance.

AVANI is also a founding member of the World Mountain Peoples’ Association, which strives to develop solutions to development problems, influence policies in favor of the mountain communities and bring them together on a common platform.

About the Founder

Rajnish Jain's goal is to develop livelihood opportunities in rural areas by conserving the natural resources, so that rural people stop migrating to urban areas in search of work and modern amenities. He and his wife, Rashmi Bharti set up Avani, through which has pioneered technologies to develop livelihood opportunities at village level. Jain was able to get funding from Acumen and won several awards for his pine-needle innovation, and has set up the first village based pine needle fuelled power plant