Planetary Power, a Seattle, WA-based company, founded in 2007, produces HyGen, a hybrid generator, which provides a cost-effective, sustainable and reliable alternative to conventional generators. HyGen supports a vital communication link to people, companies or applications that are “off-grid,” meaning out of reach of a conventional or reliable power grid.
Rebecca MacLeod, marketing and PR executive, referenced a 2014 GSMA report estimating that by 2020 there will be 1.2 million towers that are off-grid or connected to an unreliable power grid and relying on generators. Currently only about five percent of all off-grid towers are running any sort of hybrid or renewable solution.
“The market opportunity is huge,” she said. “We’re also very excited about the impact this is going to have on the environment, while increasing reliability for the towers and reducing operating expenses. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
HyGen combines advanced generator technology with integrated energy storage for fuel-efficient power. Additionally, HyGen reduces fuel consumption by leveraging every available energy source at the site.
HyGen has been specifically engineered to power off-grid telecom towers by integrating best-in-class power production, energy storage and power conversion technology. According to the company website, not only has HyGen been optimized for the DC load of telecom base stations, but HyGen is capable of powering many different telecom base station configurations that require power up to six kilowatts. Key features include secure enclosure with theft detection, <0.35 L/kWh specific fuel consumption, lithium-ion battery technology, small footprint—easily fits existing tower sites, directly connects renewable energy sources, has a five-year lifetime, remote monitoring and easy maintenance by a standard diesel technician.
CEO Joe Landon said that HyGen will help towers reduce their environmental footprints, many that now run on diesel generators 24 hours a day.
“As you can imagine, that is the worst possible thing for the environment. So, there’s a lot of room for improvement there,” he said. “HyGen reduces the fuel consumption at those sites by 60 percent; that also means 60 percent less emissions. The way we do that is by using our hybrid technology, which is a combination of a small efficient diesel engine, a lithium ion battery bank and a control system.”
Landon, who recently won Seattle’s Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award, said that the company originally had an interest from the U.S. Navy to provide power for units that were out in the field. They built a prototype hybrid generator, and that’s where they developed the technology for HyGen. Once they looked into other capabilities, they decided to focus the entire company on the commercial market.
Additionally, Planetary Power has secured $3.43 million in Series A funding. The mix of investors’ funding will be used to finalize development and release of the HyGen hybrid generator to the telecom market. HyGen also will begin shipping to off-grid telecom towers in Latin America, the Caribbean and South America in the third quarter of this year. With anticipation of the launch, Planetary Power has added multiple engineering, design and manufacturing members to its team, with a new COO, Kurt Armbruster, and a new VP of product, Raakesh Parmar.
MacLeod said that the company is in a unique position to bring something really superior to the market, and that the “impressive” list of investors speaks to the credibility of the solution.
The first telecom units will hit the telco market within in the next month.
For more information, visit http://www.planetarypower.com/.
By Alyssa Stahr