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

ByEditorialTeam

Sep 1, 2022

Now that the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you may wish to be taught extra about every successful group 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 nations.

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

On this weblog we are going to study Agri To Energy (A2P Vitality), winner of the $100,000 USD Local weather Influence 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 an alternative.

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 trade 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 impression 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 baby, there wasn’t as a lot site visitors and industrialization as as we speak, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after a couple of years of finding out and dealing outdoors my metropolis, I had two younger children, and I noticed that each winter there was a variety 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 outdoors when it is on the peak. An enormous motive 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 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 a variety of that could be a low-grade coal.

I used to be engaged on a crop diversification coverage challenge with the Authorities of Punjab the place I interacted with farmers, and I noticed that this was not a farmer-specific drawback, it is 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 the usage of applied sciences to remodel paddy straw into gasoline and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was an excellent enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we’ve a variety of agricultural biomass and then again we’d like cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to begin a corporation, Agri To Energy, to make use of crop waste for energy technology.

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

Are you able to clarify how your answer works?

Sukhmeet: When it comes to gathering the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are usually youthful people in a village who wish to do one thing additional other than 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 don’t seem to be 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 facet, we arrange vegetation the place we are able to 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 wish 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 performed 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 photographs of areas with a excessive depth of fires, which signifies there may be 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 progressive about the way in which you might be fixing the problem? What units your answer aside?

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us could be the usage of 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 is a good place to do an intervention. I do not suppose any firm is doing that.

Our expertise platform has additionally turn out to be a market for biofuels. After we have been establishing manufacturing vegetation, we realized that we won’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 wish to shift from coal to biomass fuels. That’s after we realized our expertise platform may additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and patrons to attach with out our involvement.

Some greater biofuel manufacturing vegetation could wish 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 is the place the platform comes into image: it helps to consolidate small provides of crop waste or biofuels into greater portions for patrons.

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

How will successful a prize within the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem enable you advance your enterprise?

Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we wish 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 tough to scale. Now we are able to rent people who find themselves extra environmental centered, or who’ve a expertise background and may work with corporates to finally assist them of their journey to shift from fossil fuels to those inexperienced fuels. As I mentioned, 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 entire platform.

What recommendation do you might have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s extremely onerous when you find yourself in a sector the place it’s important to change habits, so acknowledge that it’s going to be a protracted journey. However keep on with your core, and do not 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 admittedly, actually important, too. The journey of being an entrepreneur is thrilling, nevertheless it’s a protracted journey. You simply have to stay to it.

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

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