Diesel generators are essential devices on construction sites, film sets or wherever portable power is needed. But they are dirty and emit carbon dioxide like any other internal combustion engine.
While big legacy companies like Generac and Caterpillar are starting to offer small battery-powered units in addition to their larger lines of diesel generators, California-based start-up Moxion Power is focusing entirely on this new power frontier. It creates a high-power mobile energy storage technology that can be used virtually anywhere.
“We design, engineer and manufacture all the key technologies we use. So we don’t buy someone else’s battery module. We actually manufacture the battery modules in-house,” said Paul Huelskamp, CEO of Moxion.
Huelskamp says diesel generators are very difficult and expensive to maintain and burn diesel fuel very inefficiently.
“So it’s extremely wasteful and terrible for the environment,” he added.
In the Moxion model, customers can buy or rent premises. For rentals, Moxion uses technology that alerts them when their batteries are low so they can replace them without any delay. They claim to know exactly what the state of charge is.
For companies looking to buy, generators are competitively priced and can actually be cheaper because they are less expensive to maintain than diesel models, says Huelskamp.
Amazon both investing in the company and currently leasing Moxion units for two video productions, a film and a series. The generators will power cameras, base camps, lighting, hair and makeup trailers, and other production equipment.
“One of the advantages of the Moxion unit is that it is quiet and zero-emission,” said Nick Ellis, director of the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund.
About half of the carbon dioxide emissions of an average film come from the fuel used to power generators and transportation.
“It can be moved indoors for unique indoor shots that we couldn’t do before, and it really allows our team to think of new ways to film productions than we used to,” said Ellis.
“The other real benefit is that you can connect these units very close to the set, you eliminate a lot of cables that are a stumbling block and a hazard for your production teams. And so all of a sudden these units are sitting there quietly and operating with zero emissions and taking up very little space on the production set.”
In addition to the Amazon Climate Pledge fund, Moxion’s sponsors include: Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Enterprise Holdings, Energy Impact Partners, Tamarack Global and Sunbelt Rentals. Total funding to date: $110 million.