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India's clean energy pioneers win green award

Jun 17, 2011

India’s Abellon Clean Energy Ltd and Husk Power Systems have won this year’s Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy - world’s most prestigious green energy award. While Abellon uses crop waste as clean fuel for industries, Husk Power Systems gasifies rice husk to generate electricity.

ashden-gyanesh.jpgLondon:The world’s most prestigious green energy awards announced that two companies from India – Abellon Clean Energy Ltd. and Husk Power Systems – have been chosen as winners of this year’s Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. Winners from Pakistan and Africa and an overall Gold Award winner from Ghana were also announced at a VIP Awards ceremony in London tonight addressed by Greg Barker, UK Government Minister for Climate Change.

The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Ashden Awards, who personally congratulated the international winners in a meeting earlier today, said:  “The Ashden Awards show what it is possible to do now in saving resources and cutting emissions. They remind us how, as individuals, we can make a huge difference to the world in which we live.  In a nutshell, they remind us that acting locally is, in fact, acting globally.”

The Ashden Awards showcase practical solutions to combat climate change and meet the energy needs of the poor, rewarding outstanding and innovative clean energy schemes across the developing world and in the UK. 

Indian 2011 winners:

Abellon CleanEnergy Ltd from Gujarat was awarded £20,000 for producing biomass pellets from crop waste to fuel Gujarat’s industries and for giving farmers a market for their waste products (see below for further details).


Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of the Ashden Awards and chair of the judging panel said: “Abellon has devised a system that relies on a local, clean source of energy to reduce CO2 by replacing dirty industrial fuels, drive economic growth, improve crop yields and support farmers. This is a showcase example of how the use of local, clean energy can provide effective and commercially viable solutions to local challenges. We hope others can learn from this exciting and successful initiative”.

Husk Power Systems from Bihar was awarded £20,000 for connecting remote villages in Bihar to a clean, reliable electricity supply, which provides better light, harnesses a widespread waste product – rice husks - and costs less than alternatives (see below for further information).

Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of the Ashden Awards and chair of the judging panel said: “Husk power has combined personal passion and commitment with technological know-how and entrepreneurial drive to create a fast –growing local-grid electricity company that should be an inspiration to all those who are trying to develop ways to provide energy to the poor in a way that is affordable and sustainable.”

Summaries of 2011 Indian winners work:

Abellon Clean Energy Ltd.

By turning crop waste and sawdust into pellets that fuel the boilers of 14 industrial clients, Abellon is succeeding in its mission to reduce both carbon emissions and the volumes of black smoke that is spewed out daily by industry in Gujarat.  By replacing coal and lignite, which are high-carbon and polluting, Abellon has so far cut CO2 emissions by around 110,000 tonnes a year and provided factory workers with a cleaner, healthier environment to work in. As one customer put it: “We used to use lignite and in terms of personal hygiene it wasn’t good. But now we go home, we don’t feel dirty, we feel free.” Mr. D.D Mistry, General Manager, Claris. 


Gujarat’s farmers, who have been plagued by erratic rainfall and increased soil salinity are also helped by Abellon, which not only provides 8,500 of them with extra income for their crop residues, but has also set up an NGO – Poornakumbha – to advise them on how to increase crop yields through sustainable practices:  “Our aim isn’t just to make the farmers richer by selling biomass, but to make them richer by improving agricultural practices” Ganeshbai Patel, Poornakumbha trainer.

Abellon currently produces over 65,000 tonnes of biomass pellets a year and aims to open two more pellet plants in Gujarat in the next five years, trebling its production, and expanding operations into international markets.

Useful facts:
•    Gujarat produces around 16% of India’s industrial output.
•    The future potential for biomass production in Gujarat is substantial as raw material is widely available and cheap.

Husk Power Systems

Pandey, CEO, grew up in a village in Bihar without electricity then went on to study electrical engineering in India and the US. Despite earning a six figure income in LA, he wanted to go home and use his knowledge to bring light to Bihar. In his own words: “I am like a kid who has watched his mother suffer and at some point the kid can help his mother and he feels joy, and I feel the same as that.” 

So, with his friend Yadav, an entrepreneur, Pandey spent a few years experimenting – then discovered gasifiers, a technology that has been around for years. Two of Pandey’s colleagues Sinha and Ransler, who were pursuing MBAs at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, put together a business plan and set out to raise money. They came first in two student competitions, garnering prizes of $10,000 and $50,000. The company received a grant from the Shell Foundation and set up three more systems in 2008. It has since raised $1.75 million in investment financing. In 2009, they had 19 systems in operation; in 2010, they more than tripled that figure.


Husk Power has already built 65 plants that generate electricity from gas produced by rice husks and other biomass waste. The electricity is then distributed via Husk Power’s local grids, to around 180,000 off-grid villagers in Bihar. The electricity generated is cheaper, more reliable and cleaner than alternatives and it also cuts greenhouse emissions by over 8,000 tonnes of CO2 by replacing kerosene - widely used as a source of light in rural Bihar. Villagers that are not yet connected to Husk Power’s local grids are clamouring to join. As one farmer said: “women aren’t interested in men from our village any more: there will be no more marriages until we get our Husk Power plant”. Luckily for such villagers, the company is growing rapidly, aiming for over 2,000 plants in operation by the end of 2014. 

Husk Power is a social enterprise that goes beyond simply supplying electricity. In the words of the founder, Gaynesh Pandey: “ We have set up training programmes that takes people from rural areas without education and converts them into skilled workers.”

Useful facts
•    85% of people in Bihar and 400 million people across India lack access to grid electricity.
•    Bihar produces 1.8 million tones of rice husk per year. Husk Power uses one tonne of rice paddy to provide electricity to one family for a year.  

The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of local clean energy to address climate change and alleviate poverty. Since then they have rewarded over 120 winners across the UK and the developing world. The Ashden Awards work to show-case and celebrate best practice, encourage the expansion and replication of winners’ work, raise awareness of the potential of local sustainable energy, and advocate on their winners’ behalf. For further information, including photos, films, and case studies on past winners, go to The Ashden Awards Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.

The 2011 Ashden Awards are supported by Christian Aid, The Waterloo Foundation, NTR Foundation and Citi.

To read live comment on the Awards Ceremony and conference and for other news go to:


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For Information on all International Award winners:

Download case study on Abellon Clean Energy Ltd:

Download case study on Husk Power Systems:

For further information or to schedule interviews, contact Carla Jones : T + 44 (0)20 7410  7068; M + 44 (0)7910054447; E

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