Aston University academics addressing rural poverty in India

Addressing rural poverty in India

Business and Engineering academics from Aston University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi are overseeing the construction of a combined heat and power plant (CHP) in a remote village in northern India.

Fuelled by crop waste such as rice husks and prosopis wood the 300kw biomass-solar plant will provide heat, steam and electricity to downstream plants, which are also being built as part of the three year project. This includes a rice mill, fruit and vegetable processing plants and a water distillation unit. The combination of solar and biomass power will reduce fuel consumption while allowing round the clock operation.

The plant will allow regional farmers and their families to access a cheap, renewable and reliable energy source that in-turn can help remote villages to generate an income and escape from a cycle of ‘fuel poverty’. 

This includes the conversion of materials such as algae, sewage sludge, seeds, wood and agricultural waste into useful fuels for electricity generation, heating, transport and fertilisers.

The research team wants to use this pioneering project to create a blueprint forrenewably powered combined heat and power boilers, capable of being replicated throughout India.

This blueprint of work will include:

  • Mapping specific regions to assess access to existing biomass and renewable energy resources to ensure there is no conflict with existing land for food production.
  • Engaging with communities to assess specific business needs and assessing attitudes to the need and potential of proposed energy technologies both current and future
  • Creating a reliable and small scale CHP system which can be used in the long term by communities and replicated easily in other areas.  

The three-year, £3m Science Bridge Project, is being supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). The project will also investigate renewable biomass technologies in the United Kingdom, which are being developed by Aston University and the European Bioenergy Research Institute.