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Malawi Field Report, Microgrids, New Upgrades, and more

 
Replaceing Diesel with Biomass–making it happen in Malawi
The Chelinda Lodge, like many remote eco-resorts, faced enormous costs getting diesel to their location above Nyika ridge. With costs reaching more than $.50 cents USD per kilowatt hour, they could only afford to run their generator four hours a day on diesel. But working in partnership with the group Total Land Care and funded in part by USAID, they recently received a 20kW power pallet.
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After a ten hour drive overland in the bed of a Hilux pickup, the staff built a block and tackle system and wrangled it to the ground, then chopped up some fuel by hand.DSC_0611

Right around that time, APL’s Richard Scott stopped in on his recent tour of Africa, and helped set up and commission their Power Pallet.

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Now Chelinda can make electicity anytime on readily available biomass, for a fraction of the cost of what they were otherwise paying. And Richard? He was able to get in a little flyfishing.
 

 

 

Power Pallet Upgrades—Version 4.7 released November 1stupgrades

We’re constantly revising and upgrading at APL, making improvements to our products—so often, in fact, we usually forget to mention them.
 
As a step to correct that, we’re very happy to announce the release of our Version 4.7 reactor for the Power Pallet. This is now standard on all models going out the door. The 4.7 has several important new features including removal of internal flanges and hard welding all joints, reducing chances of internal air leakage.  The new reactor also uses heavier gauge hearth materials, including a higher termperature 310 alloy in the combustion zone.
 
Other recent upgrades that are now standard—and all included at no extra charge—are listed below:

*New flare mounting and gas routing–start up gasses now pass through the filter to increase blower longevity. (Note: a gas re-route upgrade kit is available for existing customers.)

* Improved smart auger software automation– helps unstick jammed fuel

* Upgraded condensate bottle. Now made from stainless steel, with a glass viewing port

*New protective cage for cyclone capture jar

*Refined control dashboard

VERGEMGMicrogrids: making them work…in downtown San Francisco? APL lights up ( literally) the VERGE conference

The recent VERGE conference at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel was three days crammed with speakers highlighting the latest  breakthroughs and opportunities for entreprenuership in sustainable energy and technology. But unlike any other similar conference, they challenged themselves to put their money where their mouth is by committing to power their exhibition hall entirely on a micro grid of renewable energy.

Connecting multiple loads and generating units together is the essence of microgrid design, and a good fit for the Power Pallet–with our new grid tie package, it can form the backbone of a microgrid.

But building one on a deadline, in the middle of a major city,  and then striking it every night and putting it back together? That was a little tricky, all the more satisfying when it worked out great–click the image below for a video showing how it all came together.

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Al Jazeera America visits APL
During our last workshop a film crew from the new cable news network AlJazeera America stopped by. As it happened, they interviewed Matt King about the project in Malawi highlighted above. The story just ran a few weeks ago– click the photo to link to the video.

 

model2Power Pallet ROI calculator:Now Updated
How much is on-demand energy worth? And how quickly can a Power Pallet pay for itself? Here’s a great place to at least start finding answers. We’ve recently launched a beta version of a Cost/Benefit calculator for a Power Pallet, as compared to off grid diesel. Enter your currency, likely cost for biomass and labor, as well as cost for diesel fuel. Then enter the number of Power Pallets, operating hours per day, and the model will tell you your likely cost per kWh, and how quickly they will earn back their investment–in many cases it’s less than two years.

Models like this are notoriously difficult to make robust enough to cover most situations, but it’s a good start.  We’ll have been and will continue to be tweaking the model based on your feedback; please contact us.

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Happy in the Heartland
Most of the photos we share are from other countries, but quite a few of our Power Pallets are being set up here in the USA. Case in point–this is the Jay Newman family in Missouri. Their new Power Pallet will provide backup energy for their remote forest homestead.

 

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Introducing: The Lego Power Pallet
Brian Ballek’s 11 year old son was bugging his dad for something to do, so Brian gave him one of our cataloges and said “here, build this.” An hour later, he had. Amazing–he even got the foam cover on the air filter.

 

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