On May 3, 2018, quiet island life changed radically for those in the Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii. The 2018 lower Puna eruption on the island of Hawaii on Kīlauea volcano’s East Rift Zone began on May 3, 2018, then on May 4, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Puna. This eruption evolved into 24 fissures, forcing the evacuation of 2000 residents. The Puna Geothermal Venture, which provided one-quarter of the island’s electricity, was forced to shut down and was later damaged by lava. The fissures had sent lava rivers that buried part of Hawaii Route 137 on May 19, and began flowing into the ocean. On May 29, lava from a new northeastern flow overran Hawaii Route 132, cutting the access between Kapoho and Pahoa.
After months of uncertainty and devastation, on December 5, 2018, the volcano eruption ended.
Roads, power and services were interrupted and needed to be re-established. For many who had only vaguely considered solar or microgrids, this became a real concern for survival and sustainability in Hawaii’s fragile and volatile environment.
Rebuilding with Sustainable Energy Supply
Longtime Pahoa resident Wendy contacted BoxPower in 2019. Wendy’s situation was not unique: she had been looking for an off-grid solar + battery solution for her home on the Big Island of Hawaii for several years, but no one had been able to meet her exact requirements.
Wendy’s home is one of the many in the Pahoa region of Hawaii that lack access to electricity, due to a combination of their remote location and the intermittent flows of lava from the nearby Kīlauea Volcano, as well as tropical storms. Wendy was using a generator for her primary source of power since building her home in the early 2000s, spending on average $300-500 per month on gasoline to power her home, and attached home-office. (This gasoline is shipped to Hawaii, adding significant transportation costs and energy use.)
Boxpower’s Plug and Play Microgrid
BoxPower was able to offer the options needed to make a microgrid part of Wendy’s sustainable energy solution. In July 2019, BoxPower Inc. was contracted to design, build, and deploy a palletized solar + storage system to power Wendy’s off-grid home and home-office in Pahoa, Hawaii.
Boxpower designed a system to meet her needs and constructed it in California. This was then shipped to the Big Island and installed on -site in a single day by Wendy herself, following Boxpower’s detailed instructions.
Boxpower’s system consisted of a 21kWh lithium ferro phosphate battery system, and 12kW AC-coupled battery inverter pre-wired inside of a 4’ x 8’ palletized metal enclosure, with a 3.5kW solar PV array mounted on top.
This system was designed to connect to a back-up gasoline generator, and to be expandable with an additional ground-mount or roof-top array, adding the flexibility that was needed to fully adapt this rural tropical environment.
As Wendy’s power needs grew, she chose to increase her capabilities at home and given the ease of adding to BoxPower’s system, Wendy added an additional 4kW ground-mount PV array, bringing the total system PV capacity to 7.5kW.
Energy Savings + Increased Security
This palletized solar + battery system now saves Wendy approximately $600/month in avoided fuel expenditures, and offsets 27,231 lbs of CO2 equivalent per year. Calculated at 48 lbs of CO2 per tree absorption, this is the equivalent of planting 567 trees per year. Additionally, her home is secure with power supplied throughout other climate change related weather incidents.
“I spent 2 years looking for a system that met my needs for a 10kW system to run manufacturing that was not on my roof, which would leave it vulnerable to hurricanes. I also needed customer service and a warranty. I looked all over Europe and Canada and had many other bids.
Every detail on system integration has been covered from specification to installation.
I couldn’t be happier with BoxPower. It’s life changing. I am super happy. We are really proud as a company that we are a net zero company with zero waste.” —Wendy with the Wrist Widget, Big Island Hawaii
BoxPower is a leading provider of plug and play solar energy solutions worldwide, offering best-in-class engineering, components, and workmanship to meet the needs of residential, community, commercial, and agricultural applications. BoxPower’s modular systems can be sized from as little as 3.5kW and as much as 528kW. From rural homes and farms in California to community microgrid projects in Alaska and disaster recovery in Puerto Rico, BoxPower offers clean, reliable, and affordable energy anywhere.
Contact Dalan Angelo at [email protected] for more information on Boxpower’s sustainable energy solutions.