A2P Power: How a tech platform is decreasing agricultural air pollution and growing clear vitality use in India

Now that the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll need to be taught extra about every successful workforce and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco International Downside Solver Problem is a web based competitors that awards money prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs fixing the world’s hardest issues. Since 2017, the competitors has awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 start-ups from 25 international locations.

We’re excited so that you can be taught extra concerning the 2022 successful groups addressing a few of the largest challenges we face by means of technology-based options.

A2P Energy logoOn this weblog we are going to study Agri To Energy (A2P Power), winner of the $100,000 USD Local weather Influence and Regeneration Prize. Their resolution addresses the issue of crop waste burning in India, which causes unhealthy air air pollution, damaging carbon emissions, and a monetary burden for already struggling farmers. A2P’s know-how platform makes use of AI and satellite tv for pc imagery to determine areas the place crop waste burning is prevalent, and creates a market the place crop waste may be become clear biofuels as a substitute.

Co-founder and CEO Sukhmeet Singh earned a bachelor’s diploma in mechanical engineering and an MBA earlier than becoming a member of the Indian Faculty of Enterprise, the place he led an entrepreneurship program and consulted with governments and business on coverage points. In 2018 he co-founded A2P Power alongside together with his co-founder Dr. Robert Berry to create a marketplace for biofuels derived from crop waste. I sat down with him to be taught extra about his journey and the affect A2P is making in India.

What impressed you to develop this resolution?

Sukhmeet: I grew up within the Chandigarh space in northern India. After I was a baby, there wasn’t as a lot site visitors and industrialization as immediately, so it was a lot cleaner. After I got here again after a couple of years of learning and dealing exterior my metropolis, I had two younger children, and I noticed that each winter there was plenty of smoke and air air pollution. The air high quality index (AQI) is normally round 50 or 60 in cleaner cities, however right here in India it goes as much as 400 or 500. The medical doctors would say to not let the children play exterior when it’s on the peak. An enormous purpose for that is that 35 million tons of crop waste is produced yearly in simply two states in North India, and most of it will get burned on the sector and produces black smoke. Roughly 500 million tons of crop waste is generated yearly in all of India, and a few experiences say 30 to 40 % will get burned. On the identical time, 60 to 70 % of the electrical energy generated at thermal energy vegetation in India nonetheless comes from coal burning, and plenty of that could be a low-grade coal.

crop waste
As a lot as 40% of the roughly 500 million tons of crop waste generated
yearly in India is burned, inflicting air air pollution and producing damaging
carbon emissions.

I used to be engaged on a crop diversification coverage undertaking with the Authorities of Punjab the place I interacted with farmers, and I noticed that this was not a farmer-specific downside, it’s a cross-sector downside. There, I used to be launched to Dr. Robert Berry, who was Dean of Engineering at Aston College (UK) and main a European Bioenergy Analysis Institute undertaking exploring using applied sciences to remodel paddy straw into gas and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we have now plenty of agricultural biomass and alternatively we want cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to start out a corporation, Agri To Energy, to make use of crop waste for energy era.

I’m significantly grateful to Aston College and the Oglesby Charitable Belief for his or her help of the analysis, feasibility institution, and early commercialization of this work.

Are you able to clarify how your resolution works?

biomass briquettes going into a furnace
Biomass briquettes comprised of crop waste present cleaner vitality than coal.

Sukhmeet: By way of amassing the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are typically youthful of us in a village who need to do one thing additional other than farming. They put money into assortment equipment and conduct outreach with particular person farmers to gather the waste from them. This advantages farmers as a result of they don’t seem to be spending time or cash on gas to set their crop waste on hearth. Simply these financial savings alone can improve their income by seven %.

From the manufacturing facet, we arrange vegetation the place we are able to produce biofuel, which is principally inexperienced sustainable gas made out of stubble, which is principally the crop waste. We promote the inexperienced gas to companies that need to shift from utilizing coal to biomass fuels. Know-how additionally performs an essential position. The time between harvesting one crop and sowing the subsequent crop is roughly 30 to 40 days, and if the gathering is just not executed inside that point, the crop waste will get burned. So we had the concept to make use of know-how for extra environment friendly assortment of crop waste. We began utilizing satellite tv for pc photographs of areas with a excessive depth of fires, which signifies there’s a considerable amount of crop being burned. This enabled us to give attention to areas that may have the largest provide of crop waste.

What’s modern about the way in which you’re fixing the problem? What units your resolution aside?

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us could be using know-how. We will inform by means of satellite tv for pc imagery the place crop waste is getting burned and the way a lot, so we all know if it’s place to do an intervention. I don’t assume any firm is doing that.

Our know-how platform has additionally develop into a market for biofuels. After we have been organising manufacturing vegetation, we realized that we are able to’t meet the necessity throughout India. There’s a a lot greater demand for biofuels now as a result of the India authorities has set carbon neutrality targets for all companies. We have been working in [the state of] Punjab however getting many queries from companies in different states that need to shift from coal to biomass fuels. That’s after we realized our know-how platform may additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and patrons to attach with out our involvement.

Some greater biofuel manufacturing vegetation might need to purchase stubble from as a lot as 10,000 acres. However some households personal solely a small quantity, perhaps 6 to 7 acres. That’s the place the platform comes into image: it helps to consolidate small provides of crop waste or biofuels into greater portions for patrons.

The know-how platform has one different profit: it permits companies which are shopping for the biofuels to see their affect. Via the dashboard they’ll see how a lot earnings farmers are producing and the way a lot carbon emissions are being averted, and all that may movement instantly into their ESG reporting.

A2P Energy Dashboard
Company patrons of biofuels can use the A2P Power dashboard to see the affect they’re having on the surroundings and on farmers.

How will successful a prize within the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem assist you to advance your online business?

Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we need to scale up from a product and know-how perspective, and in addition from a go-to-market perspective. With out this funding, we might discover it very tough to scale. Now we are able to rent people who find themselves extra environmental targeted, or who’ve a know-how background and may work with corporates to finally assist them of their journey to shift from fossil fuels to those inexperienced fuels. As I stated, India has already set internet zero targets, so we really feel there’s an ideal alternative proper now for this sort of product, and this prize cash will assist us seize that market by scaling our entire platform.

What recommendation do you might have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s very laborious if you find yourself in a sector the place you must change habits, so acknowledge that it’ll be an extended journey. However persist with your core, and don’t lose sight of why you began the group. Construct merchandise, each bodily merchandise or know-how, check out beta merchandise, and attempt to get to market as quickly as potential. Getting buyer suggestions is admittedly, actually vital, too. The journey of being an entrepreneur is thrilling, nevertheless it’s an extended journey. You simply have to stay to it.

Keep tuned for extra articles in our weblog collection, that includes interviews with each Cisco International Downside Solver Problem 2022 successful workforce!


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