Inside a shipping container currently en route to a school in Puerto Rico, a solar microgrid is ready for deployment: As soon as the container arrives, the system, from a startup called BoxPower, can be assembled and begin providing power in less than a day. The system, designed for use both immediately after disasters and to make communities more resilient to future disasters, is easy to rapidly install. “We jokingly call ourselves the Ikea of microgrids because there is some assembly required, but it is color-coded, pre-cut, and pre-drilled,” says Angelo Campus, CEO and founder of California-based BoxPower. “And anyone who can assemble an Ikea dresser can assemble our solar array on top of the container. It doesn’t require any heavy equipment or machinery.” [Photo: BoxPower] Campus began working on the project as an undergraduate at Princeton, where two of his professors had worked with Engineers Without Borders after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and made it clear to him that better solutions were needed for emergency power. After the earthquake, the Haitian government and aid agencies had mobilized huge fleets of generators, the standard response in disasters. But the plan failed. “It backfired terribly in Haiti because in […]

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