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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY BIOLITE INC

Great Energy Challenge Innovator: BioLite

Project: Testing and Scaling BioLite’s Clean Cookstove and Solar Lighting System in Rural India

Location: Udaipur (Rajasthan) and Bhubaneshwar (Odisha), India

Summary: Over 160 million low-income households in India cook over smoky, open fires, causing over one million premature deaths annually from respiratory disease and emitting 75% of the region's black carbon - the second leading cause of climate change. These households spend roughly seven percent of income purchasing biomass fuel (e.g., wood, dung), or eight hours a week collecting it. Also, a majority of these households lack reliable electricity. Seventy million households, primarily in eastern and northern India, have no electricity at all. These off-grid families are forced to use dirty, expensive kerosene for lighting, costing India's poor $2.2 billion annually.

In 2014, BioLite launched in India the HomeStove, an ultra-clean, biomass cookstove that eliminates 90% of smoke, halves fuel consumption, and co-generates 2.5W of electricity from the flame to charge phones and light. In 2016, BioLite launched the NanoGrid, a low-cost, solar powered system of rechargeable lighting and power storage. This advanced energy hub includes a powerful torch, up to four daisy-chained room lights, and charging for up to three phones. Having retailed 10,000 HomeStoves in India alone and validated demand for the NanoGrid, BioLite learned that consumer financing is key to product uptake. Great Energy Challenge funding will enable BioLite to expand our distribution base to retail the HomeStove and NanoGrid with consumer financing.

Goal: To retail 5,000 HomeStove and NanoGrid units through finance-enabled channels

Project Participants: Jonathan Cedar, CEO; Ethan Kay, Managing Director, Emerging Markets; Ryan Gist, Associate Director of Engineering; Anton Ljunggren, Director of Design; Daniel Wald, Director of Emerging Markets Operations; Riti Karnad, Emerging Markets Strategy and Operations Manager; Archana Agarwal, India Channel Manager

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

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