Energy Plantation Projects India Limited (EPPI) is a Power Company. The company was established to produce Electrical Power using the nature's bounty of biomass in the form of regenerative forests. However, EPPI is a company with a DIFFERENCE. The business model is designed and activated explicitly as an integrated concept for producing power. The elements of integration are as diverse as the Lands, Biomass Plantations, sophisticated Plantation Management Techniques, new generation Agro-forestry, Contract farming for biomass, Logistics, Power production, CSR and many more. These elements are proactively analyzed and is designed to march relentlessly towards the vision of the company.
A few of the major components of the integrated concepts are mentioned below in brief:
EPPI identified waste and unused agricultural lands in the state of Tamil Nadu of India for the purpose of setting up the pilot project. 125 hectares of land at Sivagangai District and 80 hectares in Ramnathpuram District of the state were chosen for this purpose. The lands were lying fallow for more than four decades. The company purchased 125 hectares of such lands from the local farmers in small bits & pieces. While purchasing the lands, the company developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) to buy lands as an implicit CSR. EPPI also ensured that the middlemen do not exploit the farmers during the process of land selling and the sale proceeds reaches the farmers in full. This simplified the task of buying large & contiguous lands.
Purchase & Acquisition of lands is an important element of EPPI business to start with during the concept proof. EPPI feels that a methodical, legal, straight forward and transparent system both inside the organization and with the external agencies is the most efficient way of buying and acquiring lands.
EPPI's model dispenses with purchasing lands immediately after the proof of concept that has been achieved already. All further implementation of the model can be with ones own lands or through contract farming. End result is the same, i.e. producing power by growing forests.
Man Made High Density Regenerative Forests
The Concept of producing Electrical Power by using Biomass is nearly seven decades old. Thousands of Biomass Energized Electrical Power Stations (BEEPS) are operating across the world. In India alone, more than a thousand BEEPS are in operation. Biomass that is used is as diverse as rice husk to bagasse to firewood. It is an established fact that these BEEPS are very profitable to operate, provided there is a reliable and continuous supply of biomass. Majority of these BEEPS operate using firewood and they need millions of tons of firewood every year. However, availability of firewood is dwindling continuously to such low levels that many of these BEEPS are operating at very low load factors. Such a huge quantum of feedstock can be obtained only from forests and it takes a few decades to grow forests! Growing forests for decades is not an appealing proposition either. Many BEEPS are already facing imminent closure due to the shortage of feedstock.
EPPI conceived the idea of growing forests within four years. A trial plantation was established outside Bangalore near Nelamangala between 2002-05. This resulted in the solution - "Man-Made High Density Regenerative Forests for Power Production with Fast Growing Trees".
The phrase 'Man-made' means: The planned and scientific human intervention continuously for planting, growth, harvesting and re-growth of forests.
'High Density' means: Thousands of trees per hectare.
'Regenerative forests' means: The forests re-grow every time they are harvested.
'Power Production' means: The feedstock (biomass) availability is predictable so that the Production can be commercial.
'Fast' means: Three to four years.
EPPI is proud to state that its concept of "Man-Made High Density Regenerative Forests for Power Production with Fast Growing Trees" is proven today. Many more BEEPS using dedicated plantations will be set up by the company in quick succession.
Plantation Management Techniques
One of the unique features of this concept is usage of Drip Irrigation System for a firewood plantation, which is much against conventional wisdom.
EPPI plantations are developed with modern infrastructure such as Solar Fencing, Internal motorable roads, electrical equipments connected with UG cables, Inline Drip Irrigation Systems, residential accommodation for staff with canteen facilities and many more.
To effectively use this infrastructure, EPPI has introduced innovative management techniques like Effective utilization of semi-skilled workers, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Review Systems, Formal Documentation, Formal handling of information and establishment of Person/Personality Independent Systems.
Also, the spacing of the trees are well planned to facilitate mechanical de- weeding and inter-ploughing. Large tracts of lands are divided into small units for effective plantation management. This simplified the tasks of enumeration, reviewing and mid course corrections.
EPPI has adopted the Contract Farming method to expand horizontally the horizons of Green Power Production. Contract Farming by EPPI entails an exhaustive and continuous set of responsibilities and activities. The Contract farming starts with identifying local farmers who have unencumbered lands (small or big). They are educated about the concept of forestry in their own lands. They are then supplied with healthy saplings at a reasonable cost. Then starts the hand-holding of farmers in all their activities as required before, during and after planting of saplings. This is followed by health monitoring and mid-course correction of the forests during their growth. The farmers are encouraged to grow intercrops for immediate and continuous income before harvesting of the forest produce. They are helped with marketing tie-ups for their inter-crops. In addition to these activities, another proactive work is designed during the growth of trees. Harvesting technique are developed (based on the individual land patters) before the harvesting begins. EPPI uses the Contract Farming activities to design and collect data pertaining to their program of High Density Man Made Regenerative Forests with fast growing trees. Assistance will be provided for re-growth (coppicing) of forests after the harvesting begins.
EPPI uses the opportunity of Contract farming to generate data that is hitherto not available in an organized manner in the new field of High Density Man Made Regenerative Forests with fast growing trees
The principle of Contract Farming is as simple as it can be, namely "More area under plantation = More trees = More biomass = More raw material = More Electrical Power"
The contract farming apart from contributing to the green power production has an immense impact on the socio- economic and ecological dynamics of the geographical area.
To know more about Contract Farming, please click here..
Harvesting, transportation and placement of biomass at the gates of the Power Stations are the elements of Logistics. However availability of Biomass from a number of locations (due to contract farming), differences in plantation growth, access considerations, quantitative requirements of biomass by the Power Stations, storage requirements and different transportation aspects result in the need for very sophisticated logistics management. This is possible only by designing suitable Logistics Management software activated by the handheld devices at the field level, requirements monitoring at the Power Station level and analysis at the back office level.
EPPI takes the Logistics as the opportunity to activate Women's Self Help Groups in villages to take part effectively in its operations. This has the advantage of ownership at field level and the consequent social benefits.
Power production is the most technology intensive activity among all the elements of the Integrated Concept. The Backward integration of feedstock arrangement in EPPI's concept has optimized the Power Plant Design, Maintenance, Durability and Life Span. EPPI is proud to state that this in itself will set a new precedence in the industry.