• Oorja

    Empowering Rural Communities

  • In this peer-reviewed journal article, we analyse access to conventional and modern energy sources in off-grid villages in rural Uttar Pradesh, India.

    Oorja selected as Mass Challenge UK 2016 Winners!

    Mass Challenge UK announces top 20 startups from its 2016 cohort of 100 startups

    Social Innovator of the Year

    Our co-founder and CTO Clementine Chambon was named as one of 10 Innovators Under 35 for her endeavours at Oorja by MIT Technology Review France.

  • Oorja's biomass and solar-powered microgrids provide affordable and reliable electricity to off-grid communities in rural India.

    One in five 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 $40 billion by 2020.

  • What if we could use some of the 200 million tons of crop waste and 2700 hours of sunshine available each year in India to light 1 million people’s lives while enhancing food security, reducing carbon emissions and accelerating economic development?

  • About Oorja

    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.

    The problem

    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.

    Our solution

    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.

    Our impact

    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.

    • 78% of people live in rural areas
    • 80% lack access to electricity
    • 75% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture
  • Oorja in two minutes

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  • Our impact

    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 impact 1 million people and to save 200,000 tons of CO2 - that's equivalent to wiping out the annual emissions of one coal-fired power plant!

    We expect to save 200 tons of CO2 annually for each plant we install by eliminating kerosene and fuel consumption.

  • 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 40 kWe, enough to meet the needs of 20-60 businesses and 60-120 households. Each power plant will also produce up to 10 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.

  • Oorja’s gender-sensitive approach

    Oorja endeavours to integrate women along the entire value chain from plant maintenance to billings and collections.

    We believe that each aspect of rural electrification entails livelihood opportunities for women, thereby increasing the income that they can spend on children’s education and health.

    The inclusion of women’s self-help groups to own and operate the power plants has been considered as a way of promoting gender development. Women are powerful agents of change as they play a key role in supporting their households and communities, in achieving food and nutrition security and quality education, and as they dedicate most of their earnings to the well-being of their families (FAO, 2011). Therefore, by focusing on empowering them, we will further expand the impact of our solution.

  • The team

     

     

    My passion lies in using locally available bio-resources as a catalyst to bring about lasting socioeconomic and environmental change.

    CTO & Co-Founder

    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, affordable and easy to operate and maintain, and technical partnership building. 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.

    I am eternal optimist who want to power every light bulb with renewable energy . I have a vision of a world that is racially diverse but socially integrated, where income inequality is minimal and in which every human being is acknowledged as an intrinsically valuable member of the global human community.

    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.

    I am driven to bring affordable energy access to off-grid communities in rural areas, including my native Nepal.

    Director of Operations

    Aklavya is a management professional with 15 years’ experience in the decentralised renewable energy sector in India. He has practical field experience of designing and delivering rural electrification projects and has a strong knowledge of technologies including biomass gasification, solar PV and hybrid mini-grids. Aklavya is responsible for heading Oorja’s operations in India and is involved in project development, procurement and rural load management.

  • Board of advisors

    Professor,

    De Montfort University

    Prof. Bhattacharyya is an internationally renowned energy specialist with deep 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.

    Venture Partner, Idinvest Partners

    Fabio Mondini is an international venture capitalist with over 20 years’ experience in 20 countries with a focus on investments in the cleantech sector, where he specializes in renewable energies.

  • Our supporters & partners

    In April 2016 we were awarded Social Innovation of the Year by MIT Technology Review and recognized as one of 10 Innovators Under 35 France.
    We’re happy to announce Oorja is the official Indian partner of Charge, the world’s first Energy Branding Conference.
    Oorja is proud to be a partner of Power for All
    a growing roster of renowned practitioners and ecosystem enablers in the off-grid clean energy space in India to influence critical issues related to policy, financing, training and technology.
    Thanks to the generosity of QuestionPro and its Survey Software, we are able to track new and exciting data for our stakeholders. QuestionPro's advanced features allow us to collect responses and distribute vital information to our beneficiaries in rural communities.
    We’re happy to announce Oorja is the official Indian partner of Charge, the world’s first Energy Branding Conference.
  • Oorja blog

    Our latest news, thoughts, musings and insights along our journey.

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  • Media

    November 24, 2016 - Mass Challenge UK

    MassChallenge UK, the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, today announced the top 20 startups from its 2016 cohort of 100 startups. These 20 startups were selected by a panel of expert judges who evaluated each startup based on their impact and potential for success. The top 20 represent the top 1.5% of startups out of the over 1,300 applicants to MassChallenge UK this year. The Finalists will present at the Mass Challenge 2016 Awards on January 18, 2017.
    Read more here...

    November 18, 2016 - Social Entrepreneur

    In Episode 127, Amit Saraogi and Clementine Chambon discuss their vision of electrifying rural India using waste. Oorja’s biomass and solar-powered micro-grids will soon provide affordable and reliable electricity to off-grid communities in rural India. This podcast is part of the series 'Five Clean Energy Social Enterprises'.

    Listen here!

    November 17, 2016 - BearingPoint Blog [FRENCH]

    Clementine Chambon discusses Oorja's work using a hybrid solution to electrify rural India, as well as her vision for women-led entrepreneurship.  

    Read more here [in French]...

    October 17, 2016 - Red Magazine

    Every year, Red Magazine's Women of the Year awards draw attention to celebrate the achievements of women in the UK. Our CTO Clementine Chambon was named as one of the "Women to Watch" this year for her entrepreneurial achievements.

    Read more here...

    September 19, 2016 - CEB News

    News from Clementine Chambon, graduate of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (CEB) at the University of Cambridge...

    Read more here...

    August 19, 2016 - Radio Europe1 [FRENCH]

    Michel Grossiord interviews young people driving change in entrepreneurship, sports and culture. Today he interviewed our CTO Clementine Chambon...
    Listen here... [in French]

    July 3rd, 2016 - La Chaîne Info (LCI)

    "Tous Acteurs du Changement", a series on social innovation on LCI Matin Week-end, held an interview with our CTO Clémentine Chambon on 3rd July that was presented by award-winning journalist Sylvia Amicone on French news channel La Chaîne Info (LCI). Watch the interview here...

    May 6, 2015 - Radio France Inter

    Our CTO Clementine discusses Oorja's plans for rural electrification and combating climate change through innovative hybrid mini-grids.

    Listen here... [in French}

    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 18, 2016 - Green News Techno n°193 [FRENCH]

    Oorja is awarded Social Innovator 2016 by MIT Technology Review...

    Read more here... [in French]

    April 14, 2016 - MIT Technology Review

    Our CTO Clementine Chambon was named as one of 10 Innovators Under 35 in France by MIT Technology Review. Oorja was awarded Social Innovator of the Year during the award ceremony held in Paris. 

    Read more here...

    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. 

    Read more here [in French]...

    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. 

    Read more here [in French]...

    December 2015 - Imperial Magazine

    A bright idea can take you across the globe, says Imperial College PhD Scholar and winner of the first Althea-Imperial prize, Clementine Chambon.`

    Read more here...

    November 12, 2015 - WISE Campaign

    Clementine Chambon shortlisted for the WISE Tech Start-up Award, an annual award granted by WISE, a campaign to promote women in science, technology and engineering.

    Read more here...

    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 27, 2015 - The Times of India

    We are currently building a prototype and expect to deploy the first biomass-to-energy plant in Bahraich district, UP in 2016.

    Read more here...

    July 21, 2015 - IDEX accelerator

    The ENTIRE reason IDEX exists is so that we can prepare and train young professionals to have meaningful careers that make an impact in the world.

    Read more here....

    July 8, 2015 - Imperial College London

    An Imperial student has received a Fellowship to support her project to deliver affordable electricity to rural communities in India.

    Read more here...

    May 19, 2015 - Imperial College London

    Recognition for Chemical Engineering PhD student Clementine Chambon for her renewable energy start-up company Borja.

    Read more here...

    May 1, 2015 - The Times of India

    A four-member team that offers to electrify UP villages affordably is arriving for a field study in Bahraich on Friday, where the pilot project will take place. 

    Read more here...

    May 1, 2015 - Imperial College London

    Althea runner-up Clementine talks about coming up with new ideas and the need for business and academia to work together.

    Read more here...

    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.

    Read more here...

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