Released this month, the PowerCube can provide electricity, water and shelter to remote villages and emergency situations anywhere in the world.
How do we quickly get power to a remote village sitting miles off the grid or a bunch of homes hit by a natural disaster? “Not very easily”, would usually be the answer, but now we have ’the PowerCube’, a new ‘pop-up’ solar station that can be transported via shipping container and installed anywhere with the push of a button.
Developed over the past seven years by Ecosphere Technologies, a technology and licensing company in the US, the PowerCube is completely self-contained, remotely monitored and controlled, and can be manufactured in three different sizes to match standard shipping container varieties. The first model will be released this month.
“It can ship anywhere in the world, whether it’s carried in by air or train or boat, and immediately be providing and storing energy,” one of the team, Corey McGuire, told Adele Peters at FastCompany.
If the weather gets bad, the PowerCube can be popped back inside the container for protection.
One of the main design problems the team wanted to address was fitting as many solar panels in the smallest space possible. “If you just used a normal given footprint of a shipping container, you won’t have enough solar power to provide major systems,” said McGuire. “There’s just not enough square footage of solar.”
By folding and layering the panels, which allows them to ‘pop’ out and be stacked away, the team has developed a design that can produce as much as 400% more electricity than would be possible by covering the container’s roof in solar panels. The team is estimating an electricity output of up to 15 kilowatts, which is enough to sustain phones, electricity, Internet connections, or water treatment systems.
And as if electricity wasn’t enough, the PowerCube also dispenses water and provides shelter.
According to Peters at FastCompany:
The design was inspired by a suggestion from Jean-Michel Cousteau, who serves on the company’s board. “He asked us to figure out ways to bring energy, water, and communications to remote places – like a school in a village in the developing world – without the use of fossil fuels,” says McGuire.
The first model includes onboard atmospheric water generators that pull water from the surrounding air, and there’s room inside the device for a temporary school, hospital, or sleeping quarters. All of which sounds a lot more secure than trying to live in the ‘origami inspired emergency shelter’, released some time this year, which looks to us like a fancy cardboard box.