A2P Vitality: How a tech platform is lowering agricultural air pollution and growing clear power use in India

Now that the Cisco World Downside Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll need to be taught extra about every profitable staff and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco World Downside Solver Problem is an internet 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 in regards to the 2022 profitable groups addressing among the largest challenges we face by means of technology-based options.

A2P Energy logoOn this weblog we’ll study Agri To Energy (A2P Vitality), winner of the $100,000 USD Local weather Impression 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 could 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 College of Enterprise, the place he led an entrepreneurship program and consulted with governments and business on coverage points. In 2018 he co-founded A2P Vitality 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 influence A2P is making in India.

What impressed you to develop this resolution?

Sukhmeet: I grew up within the Chandigarh space in northern India. Once I was a toddler, there wasn’t as a lot visitors and industrialization as as we speak, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after a couple of years of learning and dealing outdoors my metropolis, I had two younger youngsters, and I noticed that each winter there was quite a lot of smoke and air air pollution. The air high quality index (AQI) is often 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 outdoors when it’s on the peak. An enormous cause 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 reviews say 30 to 40 p.c will get burned. On the identical time, 60 to 70 p.c of the electrical energy generated at thermal energy vegetation in India nonetheless comes from coal burning, and quite a lot 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 mission with the Authorities of Punjab the place I interacted with farmers, and I spotted that this was not a farmer-specific drawback, it’s a cross-sector drawback. 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 mission exploring the usage of applied sciences to remodel paddy straw into gas and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was an excellent enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we have now quite a lot of agricultural biomass and however we want cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to begin a company, 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 constituted of crop waste present cleaner power than coal.

Sukhmeet: By way of amassing the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are usually youthful of us in a village who need to do one thing further 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 p.c.

From the manufacturing aspect, we arrange vegetation the place we are able to produce biofuel, which is mainly inexperienced sustainable gas made out of stubble, which is mainly the crop waste. We promote the inexperienced gas to companies that need to shift from utilizing coal to biomass fuels. Expertise additionally performs an essential function. The time between harvesting one crop and sowing the subsequent crop is roughly 30 to 40 days, and if the gathering is just not achieved 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 pictures 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 most important provide of crop waste.

What’s modern about the best way you might be fixing the difficulty? What units your resolution aside?

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us can be the usage of know-how. We are able to 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 an excellent place to do an intervention. I don’t assume any firm is doing that.

Our know-how platform has additionally change 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 might additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and consumers 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, possibly 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 consumers.

The know-how platform has one different profit: it permits companies which are shopping for the biofuels to see their influence. By 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 immediately into their ESG reporting.

A2P Energy Dashboard
Company consumers of biofuels can use the A2P Vitality dashboard to see the influence they’re having on the surroundings and on farmers.

How will profitable a prize within the Cisco World Downside Solver Problem provide help to advance your enterprise?

Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we need to scale up from a product and know-how perspective, and likewise from a go-to-market perspective. With out this funding, we might discover it very troublesome 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 in the end 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 incredible 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 may have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s very exhausting if you end up in a sector the place it’s important to change habits, so acknowledge that it will be an extended journey. However stick 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 absolutely, actually important, too. The journey of being an entrepreneur is thrilling, but it surely’s an extended journey. You simply have to stay to it.

Keep tuned for extra articles in our weblog sequence, that includes interviews with each Cisco World Downside Solver Problem 2022 profitable staff!


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