4 June '10
11:41 AM UTC
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The Week In Green Energy: The Tipping Point

Week of June 1 – to – June 4, 2010

The first week in June could well go down in history as the moment energy and climate legislation in the U.S. reached its tipping point. President Barack Obama, speaking at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, – the first time he has hitched his political fortunes to the bill. “I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months,” Obama said of the bill. The reason for Obama’s belated devotion to wrangling votes  is, of course, the gusher in the Gulf, which has continued unabated now since April 20. But there was a noticeable shift in the tone of The White House in the past week, as BP’s efforts to stem the flow have again floundered and assurances from company executives have proved to be overly optimistic or misleading. BP head Tony Hayward, for example, said that the “Top Kill” maneuver chance of success. Even promising results from the newest try at the containment dome can’t help BP now.

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2 June '10
3:05 PM UTC
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Cornerstone Conversation: Manoj Sinha, Co-Founder, Husk Power Systems

Husk Power Systems's co-founder Manoj Sinha

Manoj Sinha and his partners initially  launched Husk Power Systems to achieve one goal: bring electricity to villagers in  their native Bihar province and, in doing so, help lift them out of poverty.  To do this they developed a simple and inexpensive rice-powered electric plant (Bihar is in India’s rice belt), which generates enough power to meet the demand of up to 4,000 villagers. Their innovative green power plant has put Husk Power on the radar screen of key investors including the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. This socially-motivated, for-profit business is deploying its plants  in Bihar but, starting next year, they plans to expand across India and overseas.

Green Energy Reporter: What led you and your partners to launch Husk Power Systems?

Manoj Sinha: My partners (Ratnesh Yadav, Gyanesh Pandey — see for a full list of Husk Power Systems’ founders) and I grew up in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states. The province lags behind in all key statistics: literacy rates, infant mortality, etc. I left Bihar to attend the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi, where I studied electrical engineering. While at university, we were thinking about ways we could use our skills to help our home state. We thought of various options and zeroed in on energy and, in particular, on the need to give people access to a clean, cheap and reliable electricity. We concluded that energy was a vital catalyst that could improve overall quality of life and also help support other development projects.  For us electricity is not just a service, it’s also a tool that we provide to help people go up the economic ladder.

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