Diesel generators are staples at construction sites, movie sets, or anywhere portable power is needed. But they are dirty, emitting carbon dioxide as any other fuel-burning engine does.
While big legacy companies like Generac and Caterpillar are beginning to offer small battery-powered units in addition to their larger diesel generator lines, California-based startup Moxion Power is focused entirely on this new power frontier. It is building high-powered, mobile energy storage technology that can be used pretty much anywhere.
"We design, engineer and manufacture all of the core technologies that we use. So we're not buying someone else's battery module. We are actually manufacturing battery modules in house," said Paul Huelskamp, CEO of Moxion.
Huelskamp says diesel generators are notoriously difficult and expensive to maintain and burn diesel fuel very inefficiently.
"And so that's extremely wasteful and terrible for the environment," he added.
Under Moxion's model, clients can either buy the units or rent them. For rentals, Moxion uses technology that alerts them when the batteries are running out, so they can replace them with no lapse. They claim to know exactly what the state of charge is.
For companies looking to buy, the generators are competitive in price, and may in fact end up cheaper because they are less expensive to maintain than diesel models, says Huelskamp.
Amazon is both investing in the company and currently leasing Moxion units for two video productions, a movie and a series. The generators will power cameras, base camps, lighting, hair and makeup trailers, and other production equipment.
"One of the beauties of Moxion's unit is it is dead quiet, and zero-emission," said Nick Ellis, principal at the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund.
Roughly half of the carbon emissions from the average movie come from the fuel used to power generators and transportation.
"It can be moved indoors for unique shots indoors that previously we couldn't do, and they really allow our team to think about new ways of filming productions than they used to," said Ellis.
"The other real benefit here is because you can hook up these units really close to the set, you eliminate a lot of the cabling that's a trip and danger for your production teams. And so suddenly, these units are sitting right there quietly operating with zero emissions, and taking up a very small footprint on the production set."
In addition to the Amazon Climate Pledge fund, Moxion's backers include the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, Enterprise Holdings, Energy Impact Partners, Tamarack Global and Sunbelt Rentals. Total funding so far: $110 million.