JHANSI, India — An ancient tractor dumps a trailer load of plant material next to a battered looking shed. Surprising as it may seem, this unremarkable event may hold the key to ending chronic power shortages in rural India. Inside the shed is a noisy, little, green generator that runs on gas produced from rotting biomass. That is where the pile of plant matter dumped by the tractor comes in. The generator produces 100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to service the modest needs of four or five typical Indian villages. However in this particular case it drives a mini-industrial complex that currently provides 130 jobs in an area where employment is hard to find. The location is a rural site about 15km from the city of Jhansi in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The initiative is called Desi Power (local power). It aims to provide a model for generating low-cost electricity from renewable resources that can easily be copied elsewhere in the vast swathes of rural India that have no connection to the mains grid. ‘This really is a viable solution for remote India’, says Dr Arun Kumar, director of the […]

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