ESA Technology Transfer Success Story - Powering a village from a shipping container: space structures to transform portable energy generation [Aug/2022]
Using ESA patented modular deployment technology, originally designed to deploy very large support structures in space, Spanish firm POLAR Developments (a spin-out from the company Comet Ingeniería) offers near-instantaneous high capacity photovoltaic generators wherever power is needed, autonomously.
Under ESA contract, Comet Ingeniería, in consortium with Airbus SSE and Prosix Engineering, are developing a deployable ring and mast system, capable of compacting to less than 10% of its final size to fit within medium and large launchers. Comet recognised the potential for modular deployable structures in the portable generators market. In emergency situations, communities often require energy infrastructure that is transportable, and quick and easy to set up.
Polar Developments, a spin-off from Comet, has developed several portable solar panel solutions, including the Polar Green Container. This product utilises the folding unit cells to store enough solar panels to generate 108kW of power from a 40 feet shipping container. The solar panels deploy mechanically in just a few hours, without the need for trained specialists and can be stored again just as easily.
The creation of Polar Developments brought a new SME to the market that currently employs 6 people and aims to expand to 20 people by 2026. Polar Developments hopes to expand and reach sales of more than €6 million by 2026. The company is in the process of finalizing purchase orders for its smaller sized products, whilst its larger products (Tow and Container) will be available in their commercial forms by spring 2022. They are actively making steps towards commercialisation.
The company offers a suite of products utilizing the philosophy of easy deployment, that can address a variety of end users and needs. Their Polar Green Tow product for example can be transported by a car/truck and deployed within 5 minutes for scenarios where there is a need to generate energy autonomously in a very fast period of time, such as during emergency situations or natural disaster relief. End users of the products will include companies distributing equipment for adventures or small-scale professional activities, companies selling solar panels or providing energy generator solutions, and construction companies building in remote areas. Non-governmental and governmental organisations are also key clients for the larger products, where they are aiming to solve the challenge of a lack of energy for people in difficult to reach or non-permanent locations, such as refugee camps, emergency hospitals, or isolated rural communities.
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This initiative is led by ESA's Technology Transfer and Patent Management Unit (TTPO) in ESA's Directorate for Commercialisation, Industry & Procurement. The Unit is guiding start-ups, entrepreneurs and European businesses in developing spin-offs for ESA's space technologies. More recent successful transfers can be accessed at: Technology Transfer - Funded Projects. For more information, please contact email@example.com.