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Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast - Video

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST Hello, everyone Perfect. Hey, my name's Chip Ransler again. And I'm Manoj Sinha. And we're from Husk Power Systems and before we start our presentation we just want you to help us decide on making an investment. So we're going to ask you to stretch one more time. But pretend you're CEOs, or board members of a huge energy company, a worldwide energy company and we're going to give you some criteria, and tell us if you want to invest in it. And if so, raise your hand and keep it raised, until you don't want to. So the first data point we want to give you is there are 350 million rural Indians who do not have electricity. And right now, if we turn those guys on with the flip of a switch, that would be a market of $19 billion. And in 5 years, that will be $40 billion. So anybody want to do that? That sounds pretty good. OK, good. Hey guys don't let Chip mislead you. Let me give you another source of information. One third of the 350 million customers that he's talking about will either default payment in the very first year, and/or resort to some sort of electricity stealing. And we'll have to run wires for hundreds of kilometers to reach these pockets of villages and we'll be wasting about 50% of the total power we're generating. And I'm guessing these are in little teeny pockets, like 2,000 people. And they're not going to pay us much. And also, if we don't do a good job -- which we're probably not going to -- they'll probably steal our power lines, too, right? Yeah, this is no good. No, so from a top-down approach, this does not make sense for an investment. The boardroom doesn't make sense, you guys -- nobody has their hands up. But we think this is a great idea! So Husk Power Systems is heavily invested in this opportunity. We are a company which makes off-grid power systems for rural India. We design, own, and operate 35-100 kilowatt distributed systems in India that run on rice husks, as Andrew said. And we do this because we think it actually makes a lot of sense. But you really have to take what you know, and change your perspective. So let me see if I can convince you to change your perspective. What do you guys think this is? For a lot of you, this is either a twig, or a waste. For me personally, this is a toothbrush that I use when I go to these villages. What is this? This is rice husk. 20 to 25 million tons of rice husk was produced last year in India and was mostly burnt, or was rotting in the fields. For us, for Husk Power Systems, this is an essential ingredient that we use to convert -- to gasify -- into a clean source of electricity. So, we've figured out the technology part of it, how to generate power. Now the other side of it was how to connect to these people's needs. As Bunker Roy was talking about in the morning, I grew up in these villages, and I clearly understand the pain that one has to go through just reading a book under lantern light. So I went back to these villages connected to my own people -- some of these are my distant relatives as well -- to understand how intelligently we can solve their problem in a most economic fashion. So we thought the way to do that was to combine what was great about power systems with what was great about village life. So for an example, big energy companies make very cheap power with an abundant energy source like natural gas or coal. They also provide infrastructure so if you want reliable power, you can build businesses off that power. Finally they provide grid systems which allow people to be able to use as much power as they like, and others can use a lot, some can only use a little bit. So how did we bring the community-based practices to work? We actually went to the village to get community buy-in. We convinced a council of elderly people, we recruited 3-4 local villagers to run these plants and we actually bought the rice husks that they were wasting. So if you step back and look at the sum total of it we are actually providing a tool -- a tool that they can use to generate extra cash by opening small businesses or small enterprises. So we solved the problem. Now they are willing to pay us. And what we get is an ability to give them affordable electricity and to make a profit. Within six months, each of our plants is actually operationally profitable. As well, we are able to break even on each one in about 2.5 years. And we actually save, because people change from kerosene and diesel to electricity, they save almost 200 tons of CO2 per year per village. So where are we today? We have electrified 5 villages to date, which is equivalent to lighting 12,000 people's houses. And last week itself we closed a round of financing with Shell Foundation -- thanks to them -- that validates our idea today. And we will be able to meet 20 villages by July 2009. And India's really just the beginning. 350 million of them are just a part of the worldwide issue that's about a billion people as you probably heard a couple of times today. We've had literally hundreds of people contact us about doing joint partnerships to use our technology and our model all across the world. And in five years, we've got some great things in store. We think we'll have about 5 million customers in about 5 years, offset almost a millions tons of CO2, and globally expand. We already are working on a pilot deal in Ecuador right now that would be hopefully going live in about 10 months. So why is Chip so confident? Well, we are so confident because of the feedback that we got from our first village, from the first customer. And this is what he said: We, the people of India, got independence in 1947, about 60 years ago, but I personally -- or we, the people of this village -- got independence today, when Husk Power Systems came in and provided power, for the first time, in August of 2007. Thank you. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 155
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Social Innovation Fellows Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha from Husk Power Systems share there idea at Pop!Tech 2008

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