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

Now that the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll need to be taught extra about every successful crew and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco International Drawback 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 in regards to the 2022 successful groups addressing a few of the greatest challenges we face by way 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 answer 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 expertise 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 was 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 along 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 answer?

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 at the moment, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after just a few years of finding out and dealing exterior my metropolis, I had two younger children, and I noticed that each winter there was a whole lot 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 docs 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 sphere and produces black smoke. Roughly 500 million tons of crop waste is generated yearly in all of India, and a few stories 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 a whole lot of that may 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 challenge 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 challenge exploring using applied sciences to rework paddy straw into gasoline and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we’ve got a whole lot of agricultural biomass and then again we want cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to start out a company, Agri To Energy, to make use of crop waste for energy technology.

I’m notably 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 answer works?

biomass briquettes going into a furnace
Biomass briquettes made out of crop waste present cleaner power than coal.

Sukhmeet: When it comes to gathering the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are usually youthful of us in a village who need to do one thing further aside from farming. They spend money on assortment equipment and conduct outreach with particular person farmers to gather the waste from them. This advantages farmers as a result of they aren’t spending time or cash on gasoline to set their crop waste on fireplace. Simply these financial savings alone can improve their income by seven p.c.

From the manufacturing aspect, we arrange vegetation the place we will produce biofuel, which is principally inexperienced sustainable gasoline made out of stubble, which is principally the crop waste. We promote the inexperienced gasoline to companies that need to shift from utilizing coal to biomass fuels. Expertise additionally performs an vital function. The time between harvesting one crop and sowing the following crop is roughly 30 to 40 days, and if the gathering just isn’t carried out inside that point, the crop waste will get burned. So we had the thought to make use of expertise for extra environment friendly assortment of crop waste. We began utilizing satellite tv for pc photos of areas with a excessive depth of fires, which signifies there’s a considerable amount of crop being burned. This enabled us to deal with areas that can have the largest provide of crop waste.

What’s modern about the way in which you might be fixing the difficulty? What units your answer aside?

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us can be using expertise. We are able to inform by way 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 expertise platform has additionally turn into a market for biofuels. After we had been organising manufacturing vegetation, we realized that we will’t meet the necessity throughout India. There’s a a lot larger demand for biofuels now as a result of the India authorities has set carbon neutrality targets for all companies. We had 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 once we realized our expertise platform may additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and patrons to attach with out our involvement.

Some larger 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 larger portions for patrons.

The expertise platform has one different profit: it permits companies which are shopping for the biofuels to see their affect. By the dashboard they will see how a lot earnings farmers are producing and the way a lot carbon emissions are being averted, and all that may circulation straight into their ESG reporting.

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

How will successful a prize within the Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem show you how to advance your enterprise?

Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we need to scale up from a product and expertise perspective, and in addition from a go-to-market perspective. With out this funding, we might discover it very troublesome to scale. Now we will rent people who find themselves extra environmental centered, or who’ve a expertise background and might 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 web zero targets, so we really feel there’s an ideal alternative proper now for this type of product, and this prize cash will assist us seize that market by scaling our complete platform.

What recommendation do you could have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s very exhausting when you find yourself in a sector the place it’s important to change habits, so acknowledge that it’s going to be an extended journey. However keep on with your core, and don’t lose sight of why you began the group. Construct merchandise, each bodily merchandise or expertise, check out beta merchandise, and attempt to get to market as quickly as attainable. Getting buyer suggestions is actually, 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 collection, that includes interviews with each Cisco International Drawback Solver Problem 2022 successful crew!




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