Boxpower, a Northern California startup with ties to the WET Center at Fresno State, has delivered two of its solar generator systems to earthquake-ravaged parts of Puerto Rico. Image via BoxPower
Written by Frank Lopez
A California startup with ties to the Central Valley is bringing some light to Puerto Rico after the island has been hit with a large series of earthquakes since the end of December.
BoxPower Inc., a start-up that provides rapidly deployable solar electric microgrids in shipping containers, has delivered two of the of the systems to the earthquake stricken region of Puerto Rico, which has suffered more than $110 million in damages and seen more than 500 homes topple over.
The systems serve as solar generators, providing power when conventional power grids are down.
The earthquakes have caused severe damage to one of Puerto Rico’s primary power plants that could take more than a year to repair.
BoxPower Inc. first got involved on the island after Hurricane Maria swept through the region in 2017 — regarded as the worst natural disaster to affect those islands. BoxPower deployed one of its microgrids to a community center.
In the wake of the recent earthquakes, BoxPower recently sent two more microgrids: one at a school resilience center and a medical clinic, both on the southern part of the island.
The microgrid system for the school will be in the town of Guayama and it will serve as a gathering place for community members during outages or disasters. The system will be able to power an average-sized medical clinic, school or other critical facilities during extended outages.
Closer to the epicenter of the earthquake, BoxPower delivered one of its MiniBox trailers, a scaled down, fully mobile version of its SolarContainers. A full sized microgrid can fully power four to six single-family homes, and the MiniBox can power one single family home.
BoxPower partnered with Valley Ventures at the Fresno State Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center in 2018, right after the company had sold its first system, and right after they had delivered a system to Puerto Rico.
After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, through connections with grassroots and disaster relief organizations, BoxPower deployed one of the systems for a community center, and it has been continuously providing power for the last two years.
Since then, the Grass Valley-based company has built up a network of connections with disaster relief groups. It has since grown the company from a team of four to 15, making the delivery and set up of a microgrid systems more streamlined. It takes about a day to set up once all of the materials are on site.
“The impacts of this for people can be a matter of life and death, said Angelo Campus, founder and CEO of BoxPower, Inc. “For government facilities, medical offices, police stations, fire stations, etc., having an energy source that they can rely on, even during extended outages or disasters — it’s proven very important.”