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Helping Team Rubicon UK to make a difference

Friday, 13 September 2019

As a long-standing and award-winning British design and manufacturing company, GB-Sol are adept at applying our extensive experience of research and development to the most challenging projects. Such an opportunity arose in 2017 in a collaboration with Leading Edge to provide off-grid remote power in the British Virgin Islands for support disaster relief charity Team Rubicon UK.

In 2017 Hurricane Irma hit the Islands and getting power back online was vital to be able to respond to the humanitarian emergency. Team Rubicon found the solution with the PowerBox.  Designed by Leading Edge, a hybrid wind and solar system that supplies 120V AC electricity for emergency shelters and medical facilities via an on-board 3000VA inverter/charger.  During daylight hours power is generated by solar modules and with a further boost from the wind turbines. 

In 2018, GB-Sol featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs programme with curved lightweight solar modules made for a spiral shaped roof.   Nick Spicer contacted us the following day to see if these lightweight flexible modules could be used by Team Rubicon UK.  Nick wanted to use the PowerBox concept in disaster relief areas – including the British Virgin Islands that had been hit by Hurricane Irma – but he needed the modules to deliver more power, to be lighter and to be increasingly robust in order to withstand the extreme conditions. After a period of intense research and product testing, GB-Sol developed the Ultralight series of solar modules.

Ultralight solar PV modules have a unique construction that is lightweight and ruggedised. Ultralight modules are thin, light and flexible so more power can be packed into every transport container.  They are easy to transport and store in a disaster environment.  The modules are less hazardous as flying objects than aluminium-framed glass modules, should they be torn from a structure in a hurricane.  Their flexible construction enables them to withstand hurricane-strength winds.

Leading Edge incorporated GB-Sol’s Ultralight modules into their PowerBox and, combined with the wind turbine, they produce 1.5kW of power per 24 hours. Air and sea-freight friendly, the first four PowerBoxes equipped with GB-Sol’s Ultralight solar PV modules were sent to the British Virgin Islands and can be found at Long Tench Community Centre, East End Long Look Emergency Shelter, West End Community Centre and Capoons Bay Medical Clinic. Taking just 2 hours to install and without any specialist equipment, the PowerBox’s were soon able to support the vital work of Team Rubicon UK.