Resource detail

Title: From destructive pine to productive fuel
Source:Empowering Rural India the RE way: Inspiring Success Stories. 2012

Background: AVANI, a voluntary organization working in the villages of Central Himalayas in the field of appropriate technology, has found a productive use for the pine needles. The organization aims to set up an enterprise involving unemployed youth. The initiative will involve the collection and utilization of pine needles to generate producer gas, which will be used to generate electricity that can be sold to the power companies through an existing grid. AVANI installed gasifiers in two villages, namely, Malla Balta and Talla Balta belonging to the same Gram Sabha in the Almora district of Uttarakhand.

Initiative: AVANI’s pine-needle gasifier project proposes to address the most energy intensive and vital household process, which is, cooking effectively utilizing charcoal, a byproduct of the gasifier. This village-level cooking energy solution will reduce fuel gathering time by 70% and provide a smoke-free environment to the villagers. The gasification process produces about 10% residue, which incidentally is high quality charcoal. This, in turn, is used for cooking in village households. Residue from a 120-kW gasifier system will be sufficient to meet the cooking fuel needs of 100 households. Families can pay for the charcoal, which is cheaper than gas or kerosene, either by cash or by collecting pine needles in lieu for it. Using charcoal as a cooking medium in place of fuel wood will result in many benefits for the villagers. It will save time, improve health of the women, and provide a smoke-free environment thereby reducing all health-related issues.

Outcome/Benefits: By producing energy from biomass, the project aims at reducing 0.89 kg of carbon dioxide for each unit of electricity generated. As the biomass burns on the forest floor without providing any useable energy, the project will further contribute to the reduction in carbon emissions by eliminating all those wasted emissions. In many earlier projects, AVANI had focused on capacity building of the local residents for technology and management. Taking a leaf from these projects, the organization proposes to set up an enterprise employing unemployed youth who will be trained to operate and maintain the gasifier.

Pine-needle collection will generate employment opportunities for the villagers. It is estimated that one family can collect up to 100–200 kg of pine needles in a day depending upon the time they spend in collection. By monetizing the collection of pine needles and use of charcoal, AVANI aims at addressing the economic disparity at the village level.

[Source. Jain V K and Srinivas S N, Ed .2012. Empowering Rural India the RE way: Inspiring Success Stories, pp.8-13. New Delhi, India: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy,p.145. Available at (last accessed on 14 January 2015)]