Three Global Companies
Spring Health, Affordable Village Solar/SunWater, and Transform Energy
The creation of vibrant new global markets serving the 2.8 billion bypassed customers in the world who live on less than two dollars a day can give birth to millions of new jobs, help more than a billion of the world’s poorest customers move out of poverty, and take a giant step toward restoring the environmental stability of the planet. But it will take nothing less than a revolution in how businesses now design, price, market and distribute their products. (See Video TEDxMileHigh – Paul Polak – The Future Corporation.) We propose to start the revolution by creating three global companies, each with the goal of profitably serving at least 100 million $2-a-day customers in the fields of water and energy. Like the water company, which initially focuses on selling safe drinking water, each company will begin with a primary focus on a critical area in its field, and expand to related critical locations when the first initiative becomes successful.
Spring Health: Affordable Safe Drinking Water
According to the latest World Health Organization update 1.8 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. Most of them live in small villages with 100-300 households, and a key challenge is that existing safe water technologies are too big and too expensive to be operated profitably in small villages, or are so heavily subsidized that they are perceived as owned by the government, so nobody fixes them when they break. If 200 million customers in rural villages regularly buy safe drinking water at 0.4 cents USD per liter a private company could earn gross revenues of about $1 billion/yr, which could increase exponentially with the introduction of other transformative affordable water-related products.
My partners and I formed Windhorse International, a US-based private company, together with its counterpart in India, Spring Health, with the mission of selling safe drinking water profitably to at least 100 million $2 a day customers in rural India. Spring Health’s strategy, to be replicated in other countries, is to combine radically affordable water purification (miniaturized electro chlorination) with a cost-effective last mile supply chain (business associates on motorcycles purifying water in company built cement tanks next to thousands of small village kiosk enterprises who are our partners). Chlorine residue in the water sterilizes contaminated containers that our customers use to carry water, as well as home storage vessels. The company works in units of 50 villages, each served by an electro chlorinator in a central market town and three business associates transporting 10 liters of water purifier to 8 villages each day. To date, Spring Health sells safe drinking water to over 150,000 people in 260 villages every day. Our scalable model is targeted towards the goal of reaching 10,000 villages at 5 million customers daily.
When last mile delivery to each village every three days is paid for by the sale of safe drinking water, the 100 kilos of unused cargo capacity on each motorcycle will be harnessed to introduce, transport and distribute a line of high value/weight branded affordable transformative consumer products to our partner kirana shops.
To discover more about Spring Health’s model and progress in India
- Spring Health Story (5 min)
- Good Water for India Video by Chai With Lakshmi
- Spring Health video (13 min)
- Spring Health video (2 min)
Affordable Village Solar/SunWater: Affordable Photovoltaic Electricity
There are 26 million diesel and electric pumps being used for irrigation today in India alone. Solar powered pumps could effectively compete with diesel pumps if their capital cost were dramatically lower than the $7,000 (US) it costs now to install a typical 2kw solar panel, motor and pump system. In addition, there are more than a billion people in the world who now lack access to electricity. With a team of engineers from Ball Aerospace, we have field tested in Gujarat, India and are continuing to improve a solar pump that lowers the present cost of photovoltaic pumping by 80%, making it competitive with diesel pumps, and providing affordable solar electricity to rural villages that need it. This significant drop in the functional cost of photovoltaic electricity in rural villages will make it possible to establish thousands of profitable village PV based enterprises in partnership with Sunwater, much like Spring Health has done in selling affordable safe drinking water.
SunWater tested its system in Gujarat, India with vegetable farmers and salt farmers. Farmers increased their annual income up to 80% using the system. SunWater is now testing the solar pump, drip irrigation system with smallholder farmers in Bihar, India, which presents potentially a market for 11 million solar pumps. The potential market for solar irrigation throughout India and other emerging markets presents an enormous opportunity for profitable business as well as impacting the livelihoods of the rural poor.
- The SunWater Project – Advanced Solar Technology for Poor Farmers
- SunWater article, New York Times
- SunWater video
- SunWater video SHORT
- ASABE Resource Journal article – Sun-Powered Irrigation
Transform Energy: Transforming Waste Biomass into
a Green Substitute for Coal
Wood and charcoal remain the principal sources of energy currently consumed in developing countries. Annual world charcoal production, most of which is derived from wood, is more than 47 million metric tons, valued at $12.51 billion. In addition, the world consumes 6 billion tons of coal each year, accounting for 40% of global carbon emissions. At the same time, 4 billion tons of agricultural waste are produced on planet earth each year, of which approximately 1 billion tons are available for conversion to a green biofuel substitute for coal and charcoal, using a process called torrefaction, which heats biomass to about 300 degrees C for three hours in the absence of oxygen, and then compresses it into briquettes. Green BioCoal will establish thousands of $25,000 village based torrefaction plants, each producing 7 tons/day of torrefied briquettes with thermal qualities at prices competitive with coal and charcoal, with markedly reduced carbon emissions. When the radically decentralized access to agricultural waste is combined with selected invasive species of plants like mesquite and common reed, this will create a new $250 billion green biofuels global market.
Over the next three decades, world energy consumption is projected to increase by 56%, Already six billion tons of coal are burned every year to generate 27% of the world’s energy and 45% of the world’s electricity. In the process, coal produces 40% of human CO2 emissions. In India alone, coal-fired power is estimated to cause approximately 115,000 annual premature deaths (including 10,000 children under the age of 5). Across the globe, utilities and thermal plants of all types are facing pressure to use lower CO2-emitting forms than coal.
Torrefaction solves many of the problems by using biomass as a substitute for coal. Torrefaction is a thermochemical treatment of biomass at 200 to 320°C for 2-3.5 hours in the absence of oxygen. What’s left is a more energy dense, water resistant fuel with a longer shelf life that’s easier to move and store, or grind to a consistent and durable size as input for energy production.
The heart of the torrefaction plant business draws from Paul Polak’s understanding of innovative radical affordability combined with decentralized systems in developing countries. See: Making Charcoal using indirect method with 55 GALLON OIL DRUM
The low cost of a $25,000 village torrefaction plant means that it can be situated closer to the source of the raw material and avoid the high cost of transporting agricultural waste from remote rural areas. The plant will work with 10 tons/day of raw biomass garnered from a 4- to 5-kilometer radius, drastically reducing transportation costs with sun drying done in the fields, chopping, torrefaction, and briquetting carried out at the village plant. Each plant will have a daily output of 7 tons of torrefied briquettes, with a market value of approximately $1000/day. The briquettes will be distributed first to local industries like dye makers and pharmaceutical companies that currently use coal or wood and also sold locally as a replacement for wood, coal and charcoal in energy efficient cook stoves in homes, and in small enterprises like village tea shops, sweet shops and restaurants.
Paul Polak Enterprises, in Golden, Colorado will form an Indian energy company which will go into partnership with village entrepreneurs responsible for operating the village torrefaction plants. After 1,000 plants are in operation, the company will begin to market the torrefied briquettes to more centralized enterprises, Indian utilities, as a substitute for coal. After these markets are in place, the company will begin to explore export in bulk.
Please contact us if you are interested in investing in any of these companies.