David Ferris

Can Microgrids Bring Low-Carbon Power to Tens of Millions of People?

Bharath Kumar was furious that the lights went out an hour early. His candy-making operation in the village of Tamkuha, in northern India, had been plunged into darkness at mid-batch, forcing him to use a weak, battery-powered lantern to manage his boiling pots. 

"If I knew that the power would be shut off an hour earlier, I would not have mixed the sugar in the flour," he fumed. "This is not the first time. I will keep a record of when the power is switched off every night and show this when they come for collections." 

People everywhere complain about the power company, but Kumar’s power company has an unusual challenge. Husk Power provides light bulbs and a small amount of electricity to about 200,000 people in 300 tiny farming villages across the state of Bihar that have never been touched by the electric grid. Each village has a generator powered by burning and gasifying rice husks, a byproduct of farming that is otherwise wasted. 

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