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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 wish to study 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 study extra concerning the 2022 successful groups addressing among the greatest challenges we face by 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 Affect 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 expertise platform makes use of AI and satellite tv for pc imagery to establish areas the place crop waste burning is prevalent, and creates a market the place crop waste will be changed into 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 along with his co-founder Dr. Robert Berry to create a marketplace for biofuels derived from crop waste. I sat down with him to study 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. Once I was a baby, there wasn’t as a lot site visitors and industrialization as at present, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after a number of years of learning and dealing outdoors my metropolis, I had two younger youngsters, and I noticed that each winter there was a variety 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 docs would say to not let the youngsters play outdoors 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 stories 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 a variety 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 mission 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 mission exploring using applied sciences to rework paddy straw into gasoline and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was a superb enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we have now a variety of agricultural biomass and alternatively we’d like 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 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 resolution works?

biomass briquettes going into a furnace
Biomass briquettes produced from crop waste present cleaner vitality 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 wish 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 gasoline to set their crop waste on fireplace. Simply these financial savings alone can improve their income by seven %.

From the manufacturing aspect, 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. Know-how 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 finished 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 give attention to areas that can have the most important provide of crop waste.

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

Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us can be using expertise. We are able to inform by satellite tv for pc imagery the place crop waste is getting burned and the way a lot, so we all know if it’s a superb place to do an intervention. I don’t suppose any firm is doing that.

Our expertise platform has additionally change into a market for biofuels. After we had been establishing 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 had 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 once we realized our expertise platform might additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and consumers 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, 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 consumers.

The expertise platform has one different profit: it permits companies which can be 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 prevented, and all that may movement instantly into their ESG reporting.

A2P Energy Dashboard
Company consumers 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 enable you to advance your online business?

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 troublesome 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 in the end 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 amazing 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 will have for different social entrepreneurs?

Sukhmeet: It’s very laborious if you find yourself in a sector the place it’s a must to change habits, so acknowledge that it’ll be a protracted journey. However persist 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 potential. Getting buyer suggestions is de facto, actually vital, 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 workforce!

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