Oorja's biomass and solar-powered microgrids provide affordable and reliable electricity to off-grid communities in rural India.
One-third of the 1.3 billion people without access to electricity live in India.
450 million people in India lack access to reliable power, limiting their socio-economic opportunities.
Access to clean, affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is a priority for India's development needs while staying within the climate's limits.
The decentralised renewable energy sector in India is predicted to be worth more than $250 million by 2019.
What if we could use some of the 200 million tons of crop waste available each year in India to light 1 million people’s lives while also enhancing food security, reducing carbon emissions and accelerating local economic development?
Oorja's mission is to provide clean energy access to the 450 million people without access to reliable electricity in rural India whilst promoting sustainable local economic development.
Lack of energy access
In rural India, 45% of households are unelectrified. A far larger share have persistent power problems, receiving less than four hours of power a day.
Villagers rely on traditional fossil-fuels such as kerosene and diesel for their energy needs. Up to 20% of household income is spent on these fuels, endangering health and environment.
Declining crop yields
Of the two-thirds of India's population that lives in villages, nearly 75% depend on agricultural for their livelihood. A major driver of poverty is crop failure due to declining soil fertility, made worse by the devastating effects of climate change.
200 million tons of crop waste are produced in surplus in India every year. Open burning of this waste emits black carbon, that is partly responsible for India's escalating greenhouse gas emissions.
Affordable energy access for all
Oorja aims to use locally available crop waste and solar energy as resources to power rural communities.
Our hybrid solar and biomass-powered microgrids will provide affordable and reliable electricity for commercial power and household lighting. Oorja's focus is on productive uses of electricity, while low-income households in nearby villages are cross-subsidized so that everyone can benefit.
Biochar, a natural and safe soil enhancer
Oorja's hybrid power plants will sustainably transform crop waste through gasification to generate electricity, biochar and waste heat. Biochar is a natural charcoal-like substance that can be used in sustainable agriculture.
Biochar sold to farmers will help restore degraded soils and increase crop yields by improving water and micro-nutrient retention capacity.
A sustainable and community-owned model
Oorja builds and maintains easily operable mini power plants
These plants will be owned and operated by local micro-entrepreneurs and women's self-help groups.
Our model relies on enhancing local knowledge, skills, employability and income by building on existing networks within communities.
Tackling energy poverty, soil degradation and climate change
Poverty Alleviation and Employment Affordable and reliable electricity can provide household savings and stimulate other socio-economic opportunities, as new and existing businesses can expand and thrive. Farmers' incomes will increase through use of biochar.
Education Lighting extends the productive hours of everyone in the household, enabling children to study at home after dark.
Health Clean electricity avoids the indoor burning 3-4 liters of kerosene per family per month, reducing the incidence of respiratory diseases and burns.
Climate Change Replacing kerosene and diesel through provision of electricity made from revitalized crop waste can save 500 tons of CO2 per village per year, enabling development while avoiding emissions.
Our pilot location
Uttar Pradesh, where over 80% of rural households are un- or underelectrified and the largest producer of crop waste
Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state. Nearly 1 in 5 rural Indians live here. It is also the largest producer of crop waste in India.
160 million people receive less than 4 hours of electricity per day, and mostly live within Uttar Pradesh's 67,000 off-grid villages.
Oorja in two minutes
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We support 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals!
Clean energy is fundamental to poverty reduction and a critical enabler of sustainable development. It empowers people as they seek a whole range of development benefits: from cleaner indoor air and safer homes, to lives of greater dignity and less hard labour, and to better livelihoods and quality health and education. Access to affordable, clean energy services can change the lives of women and girls and help to generate local income when linked to productive activities within their communities.
In 5 years, we aim to reach 1 million underserved people and to save 1 million tons of CO2 - that's equivalent to wiping out the annual emissions of one large coal-fired power plant!
We expect to remove 500 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually for each plant we install.
Innovation and technology
Hybrid solar-biomass plants transform sunlight and crop waste into clean electricity and biochar
Oorja microgrids are powered by hybrid decentralized renewable energy systems. Electricity is generated through biomass gasification and solar photovoltaic technologies, and is then distributed through smart microgrids to power businesses and households. Each system has a capacity of up to 25 kWe, enough to meet the needs of 20-30 businesses and 100-150 households. Each power plant will also produce up to 15 tons of biochar per year. Oorja will provide regular plant maintenance, repairs, safety inspections and training of staff that run the power plant. It will also provide farmers with tillage tools, soil testing and the necessary training in farming techniques to correctly apply biochar.
Clementine is co-founder and chief technology officer at Oorja, where she is responsible for plant design and construction to ensure Oorja plants are robust, easy-to-operate and maintain, efficient, affordable, and scalable. She gained her expertise in cost-effective technologies to harness the power of biomass at Imperial College London where she is presently completing a PhD, and holds a first class Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge. Clementine's passion lies in using locally available renewable resources as a catalyst to bring about lasting socioeconomic and environmental change.
CEO/ Co- Founder
Amit is co-founder and chief executive officer at Oorja, responsible for business strategy development, supply chain management, fundraising, and partnership building to deploy our decentralized waste-to-energy technology in agrarian rural communities. He has diverse global experience in business consulting, financial services, and development practice. He holds a master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in poverty alleviation from Columbia University and a professional certification in Social Entrepreneurship. Amit hopes to champion decentralized energy systems to reach the most marginalized in society.
Communications and Impact Evaluation Manager
Rose is responsible for Oorja's communications strategy and for the development of our monitoring and evaluation framework. She is a postgraduate developmental economist and graduate of the London School of Economics, with over 8 years of international experience in project coordination and a strong academic background in local economic development, financial inclusion, gender and social policy.
Rishab is responsible for energy demand data collection and analysis and the installation of smart grids. He brings to Oorja a strong background in energy demand analysis, rural electrification and techno-economics of decentralised energy systems. Rishab is a graduate of the Sustainable Energy Futures Master's program at Imperial College London and is a physicist by training. He is driven to bring affordable energy access to off-grid communities in rural areas, including his native Nepal.
Board of advisors
De Montfort University
Prof. Bhattacharyya is an internationally renowned energy specialist with specialist knowledge of the techno-economics and sociocultural issues around rural electrification and off-grid energy solutions.
Founder and Managing Director, Arc Finance
Nicola Armacost has over two decades of development experience throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and is an expert in microfinance, impact investing and clean energy finance.
Indian Institute of Science
Prof. Dasappa is a highly respected gasification expert
with over 20 years’ experience in technology development for bioenergy systems and their deployment in rural India.
Our latest news, thoughts, musings and insights along our journey.
April 20, 2015 - Madame Figaro / Le Figaro [FRENCH]
Ten French innovators were rewarded on 13th April by MIT Technology Review, which highlights the most innovative start-ups launched by entrepreneurs under 35. Among them, three talented women who are plan to make their mark on the world
Read more here [in French]...
April 14, 2016 - L'Atelier [FRENCH]
Prizewinner of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 France, Clementine Chambon has developed a hybrid technology solution to electrify rural India with renewable energy. Through Oorja, her team aims to contribute to India's economic and social development.
April 14, 2016 - Le Monde [FRENCH]
Every year, MIT's prestigious publication MIT Technology Review highlights the best innovators under the age of 35 in several countries, including France. The fourth French edition of the awards, which was held yesterday in Paris, rewarded ten young innovators: seven men and ten women. Of these, two special prizewinners were announced, including the "Social Innovator of the Year" award for Clementine Chambon, co-founder and chief technology officer at Borja.
November 12, 2015 - WISE Campaign
Agriwaste to energy
October 2015 - Pure & Eco India
In rural India, 45% of households are off-grid and lack access to modern energy. After darkness falls, shops must close, women travel long distance to collect firewood and face an unsafe journey home...
July 8, 2015 - Imperial College London
May 19, 2015 - Imperial College London
April 22, 2015 - The Times of India
A rural project in the heart of Uttar Pradesh that plans to use abundantly and cheaply available agricultural waste as feedstock to co-produce reliable and affordable electricity and clean household cooking gas has become the runner up for the first prize floated by world famous Imperial College for its most innovative female student entrepreneurs in science and technology.