Power from a red cube
The company Power-Blox (in Frick, Canton of Aargau) has developed an energy system that provides reliable electricity in areas without an effective power supply and in disaster rescue situations. The red-cased power cubes can easily be connected to one another to form simple power supply networks.
The new system from Power-Blox is the PBX200, usually known simply as the “Power-Blox”. An integrated inverter means the Power-Blox is not limited to supplying direct current like a battery, but can also supply alternating current. The patented swarm technology allows for the uncomplicated connection of several Power-Blox units via cables to form a supply network, with the capability of scaling up as required. This means that electricity can be supplied not only to individual appliances such as TVs or fridges, but also to larger installations such as field hospitals or even whole villages.
The modular power supply units are used in disaster rescue situations and to provide electricity in off-grid rural areas. The Power-Blox concept has been used successfully in more than twelve African countries, as well as remote parts of the southern Pacific island of Vanuatu. In Switzerland, Power-Blox units are used to power radio aerials without access to the electricity grid, and to supply electricity to Alpine huts.
Use abroad is until now been mainly by relief organisations such as the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Médecins Sans Frontières, or United Nations aid agencies. The red cubes are sustainable because they are usually charged using renewable energies and, unlike Diesel generators, do not produce noise or emissions. They are also economically sustainable: Power- Blox are used, for example, in refugee camps to create small grids that give people a positive outlook on life and put them in a position to stand on their own two feet outside the camps – an ideal way of transforming the original aid into a good investment for all parties.
Power-Blox AG was founded in 2015 and has 7 paid employees. The company has supplied more than 1600 of its PBX200 units to customers worldwide. CEO Beat Lehmann no longer refers to his company as a start-up; he prefers to talk of a “scale-up” with a huge potential for growth. “In the seven countries where we currently have projects – Angola, Laos, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Vanuatu – we expect demand for some 1.7 million Power-Blox units in the next five years.”
Urban solutions & energy systems