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BoxPower, founded by individuals with firsthand experience of the challenges faced by rural communities without reliable power, focuses on providing renewable energy solutions.

Initially funded as a research project, BoxPower developed containerized microgrid technology to address issues of power outages, high poverty rates, and limited access to electricity.

Their projects have encompassed disaster relief, energy resilience for indigenous communities, and collaborations with utilities, critical facilities, and EV chargers in the United States.

In this episode of Climate Tech 100, find out how BoxPower streamlines the deployment of microgrids, facilitating the widespread adoption of clean energy technology in remote areas.

Can you tell us about the founding story of BoxPower and what inspired you to focus on providing renewable energy solutions for rural communities?

Our Co-founders grew up in rural areas in Montana and Northern California experiencing frequent outages and seeing firsthand the significant impact lack of reliable power has on cost of living, health outcomes, and productivity of work and education.

This correlates greatly with higher rates of poverty and unemployment in rural areas.

As solar and battery technology advanced and costs declined, it became clear there was an alternative to the traditional central generation utility model.

The National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency initially funded the development of BoxPower’s containerized microgrid technology in 2011 as a research project at Princeton University to solve these issues.

BoxPower initial projects focused on disaster relief in areas of the Caribbean and affordable energy resilience for rural indigenous communities.

Since then, BoxPower has expanded to work with utilities, critical facilities, and EV chargers in the United States.

After deploying a few systems in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the BoxPower team witnesses first-hand the importance of disaster preparedness and the challenges associated with disaster relief.

This experience, combined with the catastrophic rise of utility-related wildfires in BoxPower’s backyard (California), has led BoxPower to focus on helping rural communities remain resilient in the event of disaster; and to help energy providers mitigate their disaster risk.

How does BoxPower’s end-to-end solution for microgrid projects work, from the energy audit to operation?

It’s no secret that clean energy technology is here, however the process of implementing impactful technologies like microgrids has hindered their adoption.

From energy audit to operation, BoxPower helps organizations streamline the design, procurement, and installation processes of deploying microgrids so that rural and remote areas can begin to decarbonize at scale.

The standard microgrid development process that BoxPower created for customers can be broken down into three phases.

Before the first phase, BoxPower can perform a Microgrid Integration Survey (MGIS) for energy providers, which utilizes GIS satellite data to analyze optimal locations for Remote Grids within a utility’s service territory.

Other factors that are considered during this process include elements like High Fire Threat Districts, flood zones, and population risk to inform the site identification.

Following this, the first step of the process begins with an Energy Audit using BoxPower’s proprietary software service “EASI” which provides initial project sizing considering customer appliance level load data and generator run time.

This audit process also includes geotechnical and economic findings, as well as a preliminary site analysis to ensure general project constructability.

If the project is confirmed viable at this stage, BoxPower adds more detailed engineering, where the structural, electrical and civil plan sets are created.

The second step is the fabrication and installation stage, where the technical components are assembled at BoxPower’s warehouse in Grass Valley or with contract partners.

It is at this stage where the entire system is integrated, minimizing any electrical work performed on-site aside from basic interconnection.

Once the system is prefabricated, it is then shipped directly to the project site and installed in a matter of days.

Finally, after the system is commissioned, BoxPower finalizes an Operation and Maintenance framework and agreement.

BoxPower can perform remote monitoring control and preventative maintenance for any kind of customer.

BoxPower has active O&M agreements with investor-owned utilities, which is an indication of BoxPower’s expertise given the technical requirements of managing utility scale assets.

Can you explain how BoxPower’s hybrid solar microgrids help with wildfire mitigation and how they differ from traditional utility lines?


BoxPower’s hybrid solar microgrids contribute to wildfire mitigation by providing a safe, reliable, and clean alternative to traditional utility lines, which have been directly implicated in sparking a significant number of wildfires.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, from 1992 to 2020, federal, state, and local fire services dealt with 32,652 powerline-ignited wildfires across the country.

This concerning trend highlights the importance of adopting alternative solutions to better manage wildfire risk.

Utilities have attempted to mitigate wildfire risk by ‘hardening’ their power lines, including moving them underground.

However, this process can be both costly and time intensive.

In contrast, BoxPower’s hybrid solar microgrids offer a more cost-effective and resilient solution, particularly for rural areas in high fire-threat districts with low customer density.

These microgrids combine on-site solar power generation, battery storage, and backup generators to provide continuous electricity instead of relying on long and dangerous distribution lines.

By taking out traditional distribution lines and replacing them with hybrid solar microgrids, the risk of utility equipment sparking wildfires can be eliminated.

BoxPower’s systems decrease dependence on vulnerable power lines and enable decentralized energy generation, making them more resilient to extreme weather events and potential ignition sources.

How does BoxPower ensure energy resilience for critical facilities during natural disasters, storms, or Public Safety Power Shutoffs?

BoxPower’s systems are designed to perform during some of the harshest weather conditions.

For example, during the atmospheric river storms that affected California, BoxPower’s Remote Grids continued to provide 100% reliable energy, with PG&E and Liberty Utility customers receiving power from these systems.

Another example is BoxPower’s Briceburg system, as it provided resilient energy during a historic winter storm (2021), the August heatwave (2021), and during the Oak Fire (2021) even when there were PSPS events in the area.

When nearby lines are destroyed, or deenergized due to PSPS events, BoxPower’s systems can provide energy because they exist separately from the grid.

Can you describe how BoxPower’s containerized microgrids are designed to provide continuous power in remote, off-grid applications?

BoxPower’s containerized microgrids are designed to provide continuous power in remote, off-grid applications by incorporating a combination of solar energy, energy storage systems, and backup power options within a compact and modular container.

These systems primarily rely on solar power as their main energy source, with solar panels installed on the container and/or mounted on an auxiliary separate structure.

Energy storage is a crucial component of the Remote Grid, ensuring a continuous power supply even when the sun isn’t shining.

BoxPower’s systems utilize battery storage, which stores excess energy generated by the solar panels during the day and releases it when needed.

This allows the microgrid to provide continuous power throughout the day and night, regardless of solar availability.

To further enhance reliability and resilience, BoxPower’s containerized microgrids often include backup power options in the form of propane or combustion fuel generation.

These generators provide 5-15% of the annual power, keeping costs low while ensuring reliability during extended cloudy days in the winter.

In addition to propane, BoxPower uses renewable propane for sites where 100% renewable is desired.

These generators can be automatically activated when the renewable energy sources and battery storage are insufficient to meet the energy demand.

This ensures a continuous power supply even during periods of low solar generation or high energy demand.

The containerized and modular nature of the prefabricated system allows for easy transport and installation, even in challenging locations.

The container houses all the necessary components, such as inverters, controllers, and battery storage, providing a protected and secure environment for the equipment.

How does BoxPower’s EASI software help tailor microgrid solutions to clients’ specific energy needs?

BoxPower’s Energy Audit and System Integration (EASI) software is a cloud-based tool to simplify the microgrid design process.

EASI quickly aggregates energy consumption patterns and predictions to optimize a microgrid system that meets the client’s end goals: reduced carbon emissions, resilience, and/or cost savings.

It then matches this data with which one of BoxPower’s predesigned modular microgrids is best suited for that application.

The software gathers essential data, including site-specific information like local weather conditions and solar insolation, as well as client-specific energy consumption patterns and load profiles.

By processing this data, EASI software is able to design and optimize microgrid solutions that best match the clients’ energy requirements and preferences.

Some key features of the EASI report include a Load Profile Generator, Energy System Optimizer, and a Financial Savings Analyzer.

By utilizing appliance level data aggregation, seasonal variations in appliance usage and overall generator usage, The Load Profile Generator enables customers to create custom energy profiles without any data from the utility.

The Energy System Optimizer will recommend a microgrid system that precisely matches the customer’s energy demand and project priorities based on a personalized ranking system of project goals.

Finally, the Financial Savings Analyzer provides a clear view of the estimated capital and operational expenditure costs to determine potential savings and return on investment.

This is all automated into a 15-page proposal that is provided to customers.

How long does it typically take for BoxPower to install a microgrid system on-site, and what factors affect the timeline?

Depending on the project and customer type, the full deployment of BoxPower’s standalone power system takes approximately 3-12 months.

This timeline encompasses the entire process from Energy Audit to the commissioning of the system.

The aspects that take the most time are usually the detailed engineering phases, fabrication stages, and the deployment processes.

The timeline to commissioning can vary based on third party timelines during the permitting, engineering and procurement processes.

BoxPower has many great partnerships with equipment providers, EORs, and government agencies, however some aspects of the timeline can depend on their schedules.

Additionally, weather can affect the deployment timeline. Since BoxPower works in remote areas with harsh weather patterns, timelines can be accelerated or delayed based on weather conditions.

Can you discuss a specific project where BoxPower’s standalone power systems have been successfully implemented?

In 2019, a major fire destroyed the lines that served Briceburg.

Installing an integrated solar, battery, and generator SPS represented an opportunity to not only address the utility-related wildfire concerns, but also to increase grid resilience and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with California SB100’s path to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045.

For this project, BoxPower developed a dual solar array – one ground mounted and one container mounted – with a nominal PV power of 36.5kW and a 69.12 kWh lithium ferro phosphate battery bank.

It can provide up to 27.2kW of continuous power output and a surge capacity of up to 48kW.

The system has two integrated 35 kVA propane prime power generators as backup and a fire suppression system to protect the hardware – an especially important feature in this high fire-risk area.

PG&E and BoxPower will be able to remotely monitor and control the system via satellite, with performance monitoring, reporting, and automated propane delivery capabilities.

This site has had 99.99999% uptime and has continually operated through storms and nearby wildfires that caused the nearby grid to shut off.


Find out more about BoxPower here.