BoxPower System

BoxPower exemplifies the Sustainable Islands Platform pillar of Climate Resilience. Up until now, solar grids have always been an intensive process with complicated design, integration, and installation on site. BoxPower wants to make this energy more accessible to everyone, especially to islands that make up over half of BoxPower clients and are often the hotbed of innovation. For nine years, BoxPower has been developing the SolarContainer and Solar MiniBox to rapidly deploy solar power for residential, agricultural, community, and commercial applications, grid-tied or off-grid. An integrated PV racking system can be mounted onto a 20’ cargo container or 4’ x 8’ mini-box, including back-up power via batteries or generator. System sizes range from 3.5kW to over 22kW per container, providing a turnkey integrated system that can be assembled in less than 1 day. BoxPower is the IKEA of solar power: just remove from the box, some assembly required.


The Problem

Islands face some of the most difficult challenges in accessing reliable and affordable energy. Island microgrids are often powered by fossil fuel, diesel, or oil generation – the most expensive forms of power generation – resulting in significantly higher energy costs on islands around the world. In addition to paying more, this energy is often unreliable, with interruptions to the supply chain leading to islands being statistically more likely to experience an outage than the mainland.


The Solution

Working on islands around the world, BoxPower provides the cost savings of a solar and battery system with the convenience and flexibility of a generator. BoxPower is working to promote a future where in which energy is more affordable, sustainable, and distributed, by creating rapidly deployable solar generators in 20ft shipping containers.


How it Works

The BoxPower systems are all assembled and integrated in the home facility in California. The experienced BoxPower team prewires all the inverter battery control systems and backup generators, if necessary. They factory test the system to ensure all is functioning properly and that the system can be deployed immediately once delivered on site. The solar array system is then packed inside a shipping container like an IKEA kit – pre-cut, color coded, and including tools to assemble the system on-site. This system is then shipped out by truck, train, or ocean vessel (or in the case of the MiniBox, even FedEx or Amazon) and delivered on-site. The SolarContainer, shipped in a 20ft standard container, can run up to 25kw of solar capacity, while the MiniBox comes in a 4’ x 8’ palletized system with 5kw solar PV.

It takes about a day to assemble MiniBox and 1-2 days to assemble the SolarContainer once it arrives at its destination, requiring no experts in order to do so. To assemble, solar panels are mounted to the outside of the shipping container, and the whole system is then anchored to the ground using a screw and soil anchor, which can then withstand up to 180mph wind speed. Once assembled, this system can connect to house load panel or to meter and load panel (in grid connection mode). When off-grid, the BoxPower system provides the sole source of power to the facility using panels and a backup generator. For a grid connected system, it is capable of optimizing based on time-of-use rate: energy is stored when electricity rates are low and then later distributed when these rates are high.


Goals

  • Lower Cost. BoxPower hopes to soon lower the cost of the system so that they can universally compete with utility rates. At the moment, the focus is on customers that place premium value on resiliency or those that pay high electricity rates. However, through a number of factors such as decreasing material costs and economies of scale driving cost down, the BoxPower system will soon be able to compete with utility rates within the next 3-5 years.
  • Expand Internationally. BoxPower, while primarily focused in North American markets, hopes to expand to seek opportunities in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.

Impacts to Date

  • Installed 19 microgrid systems
  • Replaced 137,000 gallons of diesel
  • Currently producing 181 megawatt hours per year
  • 388,992 lbs of CO2 offset
  • 1,700 people using energy from BoxPower Systems

Challenges

BoxPower faces challenges in addressing a cyclical pattern of demand following natural disasters. After a spike in interest in solar power and microgrids, people inevitably forget about the vulnerability of their electricity source despite an increasing need for resilient power systems like BoxPower. Related to this challenge is encouraging governments and communities to be proactive in preparing for natural disasters instead of reactive. As costs of the BoxPower system decrease, this will be a main focus, considering that over the lifetime of the BoxPower system it is cheaper than traditional energy sources, yet customers often need to access long term low cost financing in order to make the system viable. BoxPower has already deployed 4 systems in the Caribbean, but hopes to expand with the international project within the region.


What's Next

Within the year, BoxPower will begin expanding its installations to more global markets. By the end of 2020 they hope to have several systems deployed in the Caribbean, bringing reliable power generation to islands around the region and, ultimately, the world. With the BoxPower systems currently deployed, the lifetime offset value will reach 10 million lbs of CO2—and BoxPower intends to expand even further. By embracing innovation and promoting climate resilience, BoxPower is driving sustainability in islands across the world.


For more information

Please visit https://boxpower.io


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