Abellon CleanEnergy: developing world biomass goes international

In India, government incentives have brought forth over 800 megawatts of installed biomass power generation capacity operated by dozens of viable local green energy companies. With the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimating a national capaicty for the generation of 16,000 megawatts of electricity from agricultural residues, most companies have remained predominantly focused on the domestic market. Except one: Abellon CleanEnergy.

On one hand, the success of Abellon is very much home-grown. It began operations only three years ago in the western Indian state of Gujarat, one with both high industrial and agricultural output. Crop residues are obtained from around 8,500 local farmers, all of whom reside within 50 kilometers from Abellon’s facilities, at a rate of about USD 11 per ton. The agricultural materials are then converted into pellets at a rate of 65,000 tons per year and are sold to local industry as a replacement for coal. Further solidifying the company’s involvement in the local community is Poornakumbha, a non-profit organization it established to advise local farmers on sustainable practices and on increasing yields.

The other side of Abellon however, distinguishing it from its Indian peers, is its drive internationally. Just a year after starting out the company registered a branch office in the United States. It then went to Ghana to develop an integrated sustainable bioenergy project in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program. The initiative is expected to employ 25,000 thousand in Ghana upon its completion within the next five years. Already functional is Abellon’s wholly owned subsidiary in Italy. Here the company operates warehousing and bagging facilities at three Italian ports to serve the European market. Its first biomass pellet shipment from India to Europe was achieved in January this year to the United Kingdom.

Agricultural residues for biomass pellets in India

Just this month Abellon made another breakthrough internationally, striking a deal with Canada’s Viridis Energy. Viridis is a manufacturer of wood pellets with the largest supply of quality softwood in Cananda. The Abellon-Viridis deal covers two fronts. First, Abellon will have exclusivity to market 190,000 metric tons of Viridis’ pellets over the next five years to all segments of the growing European market. Second, the two companies will form a joint venture to pursue alternative energy projects in North America, including the construction of a new wood pellet plant in Monte Lake, British Columbia.

To top off these accomplishments, Abellon was awarded the 2011 Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy—an annual prize given a charity with the same name in the United Kingdom.

In only three years Abellon CleanEnergy has risen to become a pioneer among biomass energy producers in India and in the developing world. With a balanced local and international focus, Abellon may act as an example for other developing world biomass companies to follow, for the gradual internationalization of what is now a Western-centered industry.