Pune’s First Energy offers a biofuel thats 30% cheaper than LPG

The Business Standard has an article about Pune-based company First Energy, whose product, a stove that called “Oorja” that uses biomass based fuel, is marketed to restaurants as an alternative to LPG that is more environmentally friendly and is claimed to be 30-40% cheaper.

Excerpts:

a restaurant using such a stove even twice a day (about three hours each in the morning and evening) can save up to Rs 7,200 a month, or Rs 86,400 a year, in fuel costs. This has helped First Energy lease out 5,000 of these stoves to commercial establishments and account for about half a million domestic consumers in states such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This also helped the company record a turnover of Rs 30 crore for the year ended March 2013.

How it all started:

First Energy was set up as BP Energy in 2006, as a fully owned subsidiary of BP, to provide an alternative, cheaper and cleaner source of cooking. In 2009, BP decided to focus on its core businesses and exit all non-core areas. This led to the company exiting its renewable energy businesses in India. Mahesh Yagnaraman and Mukund Deogaonkar, who worked on the project at BP, teamed with Pune-based consulting firm The Alchemists Ark to buy the business from BP, renaming it First Energy. In the early 2000s, at the behest of BP, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, were roped in to improve the pellets, which were made of agri-waste and served as fuel for the stoves. Unlike charcoal or firewood, these pellets hardly produce any smoke.

The “pivot”:

Initially, the company focused on the domestic segment, selling half a million stoves. However, through the last two-three years, First Energy changed tack and started focusing on the commercial segment, in which it has slowly made inroads.

Read the full article – There are a lots of good details about the technology, about the product, its strengths and its shortcomings.

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