Husk Power Systems Wants to Lead “a Revolution in Electricity”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sometimes the simplest ideas can produce powerful results. Husk Power Systems (HPS) is premised on a simple need–for electricity–and a simple material–discarded rice husks.

The for-profit social enterprise was started four years ago by three Indians from the state of Bihar, along with one American classmate from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Their design philosophy is “simplifying the system so much that even a high school educated villager could be trained and run our power plants,” co-founder Manoj Sinha tells Fast Company.

It is this philosophy of simplicity and corresponding success that has earned them substantial investments from the Shell Foundation and Acumen Fund and the prizes of a host of social innovation business plan competitions–including the Santa Clara Global Social Benefit Incubator. Already 60 rice husk power plants are up and running, serving 60 villages and 150,000 people. Now there are plans to run a Husk Power University and an international franchising system.

“Everything makes us unique,” says company co-founder Gyanesh Pandey. “Literally, I mean everything. We see this as a revolution in electricity. A revolution in power.”

HPS officially started in 2007 after Pandey had been experimenting for years with how to supply power to India’s most neglected, rural villages–places no access to power, many of which are in Pandey’s home state of Bihar. “We originally thought that some super high-tech solution would fix the problem. We were proven wrong,” Pandey says.

Source: Fast Company (link opens in a new window)