Necessity is the mother of invention. Oricon Enterprises realised it when one of its affiliated companies, Kopran, went looking for a cheaper fuel to replace the expensive furnace oil that powered its boilers. This led to the company stumbling upon bio-coal briquettes, an energy-efficient and environment-friendly alternative. Briquetting is a process where agricultural waste is turned into solid fuel, in this case a pellet. Despite the lure of carbon credits, there was one hitch—while the new find was cost-effective, assured supply was non-existent. Since supply was seasonal, companies shied away from long-term contracts.
Despite these problems, the potential was stupendous, so Oricon, with Co-promoter Vinod Pareek, jumped in with Claridge Energy. The outcome: a 150,000 tonne per annum briquette plant powered by mustard husk at Tonk, Rajasthan. Operating at 70% capacity, Claridge is now targeting a turnover of ₹35 crore with net margins of about 10%. Future growth will come from new units at locations with raw material proximity as well as full utilisation of existing capacities.