First orders of portable solar power systems reach Puerto Rican relief efforts.
altE Store, the Boxborough, MA based renewable energy equipment distributor, is now manufacturing a proprietary line of portable solar powered generators. The company announced the new product line of in response to increasing demand for portable and semi-portable solar power equipment. The need for mobile and easily installed solar power equipment is especially acute in areas with an unreliable power grid and areas susceptible to increasingly severe weather events. The 2017 hurricane season was the catalyst for altE to start manufacturing their own line of mobile power units in order to keep pace with demand.
altE was contacted by Seacoast Area Renewable Energy Initiative (SEAREI) in the wake of hurricane Maria to help with the humanitarian aid response in Puerto Rico. Their request was simple: assist in deploying portable solar power systems to the roughly 15% of the island still without power six months after Maria made landfall. The need for mobile power units was most urgent in the more remote communities—often the most economically disadvantaged — disproportionately impacted by the longest blackout in US history. When originally approached by SEAREI, altE had already moved through their entire stock of mobile power systems for the year and there was an enormous backlog from their suppliers. As a result altE decided to ramp up their manufacturing capabilities to satisfy demand.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team. When SEAREI first came to us, we had no stock. The 2017 hurricane season cleaned us out and there was a backlog from all of our suppliers. We've been around a long time and have a lot of accumulated solar knowledge—so we figured, why not make portable solar power generators ourselves?" said Sascha Deri, CEO of altE. "In short order we were able to pivot our existing manufacturing capabilities to begin producing mobile solar powered units."
The altE portable solar powered generators are designed to function independently from the power grid and can produce up to 350 watt hours of power per day. The units are self-contained in a heavy plastic cart with eight inch all-terrain wheels and come with a retractable handle. The cart measures 24 inches wide, 35 inches long and 14 inches in height. The units include three 30 watt solar panels and a 55 amp hour solar battery to power one DC outlet, two USB ports and two AC outlets. When fully charged the units will power a string of LED light for six hours, multiple cell phones or tablets, a laptop for 24 hours or an internet router 24/7.
"The reality is severe weather events are increasing in intensity and frequency. Our hope is people will be able to use these products as a stop gap to get back on their feet quicker and more comfortably when they are impacted," said Deri.
Based on feedback from the current line of mobile power units deployed in the field, altE is already looking to expand their offerings. They are planning to add a larger semi-permanent unit that will power refrigeration and a smaller, even more portable, unit that can be rapidly deployed in emergency situations. And with the 2018 hurricane season predicted to eclipse 2017, it doesn't appear demand for mobile power units will diminish.
altE has been making renewable do-able since 1999. They're one of the longest standing renewable energy component providers in the United States. altE's headquarters and manufacturing facility is located in Boxborough, Massachusetts. altE has supplied solar equipment for projects on every continent in the world.