AVANI is a non-profit community development organization which has developed innovative models for distributing solar lanterns and panels in villages.
AVANI is currently developing a model with strong profit potential for gasifying pine needles to generate power for village use and grid sale.

Value Proposition

  • AVANI sells its solar panels and lanterns through a payment model generating revenue to cover maintenance and future purchase finance.
  • AVANI’s gasifier project heats pine needles to generate combustible gases that currently produce 9 kW of electricity, which power their center.
  • AVANI is now working with Acumen Fund to implement larger gasifiers which will produce 120kW of electricity, each of which can power 5 villages and create excess power which can profitably be sold to the grid.  They plan to build 2.4 MW total capacity over the next 5 years.
  • Unlike most bioenergy projects, this one uses a feedstock (pine needles) that is harmful to the environment if it is not harvested.
  • The project also addresses the most energy intensive and vital household process – cooking –  by producing inexpensive charcoal as a by-product of the gasification. Families can buy charcoal either in cash or by collecting pine needles.

Product Sourcing

  • AVANI buys its solar panels on the open market and its solar systems are assembled by rural technicians trained at AVANI.
  • Pine Needle Gasifier
  • AVANI uses a gasifier developed by an external manufacturer, but had to experiment to get the required density of pine needles (grinding raised the density from 70kg/cubic meter to 200kg/cubic meter).


  • Solar Panels and Lanterns
    • Donor subsidized lanterns and panels are sold through village committees in 25 villages for an up-front charge and an ongoing monthly fee until they are paid off.
    • AVANI initially set up a rental system where the ongoing payment was a rental fee and AVANI continued to own the lanterns (and be responsible for maintenance)
    • Then AVANI realized that people preferred to buy and own the lanterns, and that the investment was enough incentive to get them to do maintenance themselves.
  • Pine Needle Gasifier:
    • The pine needle gasifiers will be set up to each power 5-6 villages with 120kw.  They can generate power 24 hours a day, but the villages only need power 3 hours a day.
    • The rest of the power will be sold to the local power utility for US$.08/kwh
    • The pine needles will be collected by villagers, who will be paid with funds generated from the sale of power, and with the cooking charcoal made from the pine needle residue.
    • Each gasifier will supply electricity to 5 villages and replace fuelwood for 1.