A business blueprint for renewable waste

Business and Engineering academics from Aston University and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi are overseeing the construction of a hybrid solar biomass plant in a remote area of Rajasthan.

The research team wants to use this pioneering project to create a blueprint for renewable powered systems to provide electricity, process heat and cooling, capable of being easily replicated throughout India.

Fuelled by solar energy and backed up by biomass such as prosopis wood, the 300kw plant will provide heat, steam and electricity to downstream plants, which are also being built as part of the three-year Science Bridge Project. They include an ice factory, 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, soon to be constructed, 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 become less dependent on farming alone.

This blueprint of work will include:

  • Creating a reliable and clean local energy supply which can be used in the long term by communities and replicated easily in other areas
  • 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 attitudes to the
    need and potential of proposed energy technologies both current and future.

This three-year, £3m Science Bridge Project, is being supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) and private donations.

The project will also investigate renewable biomass technologies in the United Kingdom, which are being developed by the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University - already home to several highly innovative concepts. 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.