Getting electricity and clean water to remote villages and off-grid locations can make a huge difference in the lives of those who live there, but running power and water lines from a central location can cost far more than bringing an electricity generation and water filtration system directly to the location, and one Italian startup has a $15,000 all-in-one modular solution to do just that.
The OffGridBox container can supply 16 kilowatt-hours of clean solar energy each day, plus 24,000 liters of filtered and sterilized drinking water, to remote locations, which is said to be enough to provide for a village of about 300 people.
It’s fully self-contained in a 6-foot cube, and includes an inverter, a 5.5 kWh LiFePO battery bank, a 4 kW solar array, water collection and 1500 liter storage system, and a water filtration system that uses filters and UV sterilization to produce up to 1000 liters per hour.
The units are designed for use as a rural electrification system, for disaster relief, for off-grid living, or as a backup or alternative system for grid-tied properties, and are said to be able to be “installed and maintained by untrained workers with a basic set of tools.”
The units are modular, so capacity can be ramped up by adding more units to the installation, and additional options are available, including a larger solar array, a bigger battery bank, WiFi capability, a desalination unit, a drip irrigation unit, a ‘pay as you go’ battery swap feature, a wind turbine, remote monitoring, and an integrated heat pump.
According to an article in Fast Company, OffGridBox has sold and installed about 28 of the units so far, and has a forthcoming pilot project in Rwanda that will see 18 units installed, but scaling up the business has been challenging. “In places where no one has access to sustainable, reliable electricity and safe water, OffGridBox can make it happen! In a few hours using a small crane and a pickup truck, we can deliver and start the unit. We also provide basic training to local maintenance operators–no matter their education level. It’s a great opportunity to empower women while solving this crucial issue.” – OffGridBox
The company has been chosen as one of the startups in the 2017 Boston Mass Challengeaccelerator, which could help shift the OffGridBox business plan away from trying to sell units to NGOs and toward providing power and water through ‘pay as you go’ systems selling direct to the end users. “We saw that one unit, managed by a local women co-op in a Rwandese village, impacts 1500 people providing Tier 1 electricity and sterilized water with a 20c$/d per family on a Pay-As-You-Go basis (half the current rate).” – OffGridBox Source:Cleantechnica. Reproduced with permission.