When a company must take a perilous weeklong boat journey off the coast of Africa to see its products in use, the far-reaching effect of the business is fairly evident.
That’s the case for Princeton Power Systems and its Lawrenceville-manufactured energy management products, which are being incorporated into the construction of Africa’s largest solar microgrid on the island of Annobon.
The 5,000 residents of Annobon receive electricity up to only five hours per day and spend a large portion of their income on supplemental power. The microgrid will reduce costs for the islanders and provide them reliable electricity at all times.
Darren Hammell, a Princeton Power Systems founder, would like to see for himself how profound an effect his company’s technology will have on the population.
But — don’t blame him for it — he hasn’t yet penned that intense voyage into his calendar.
Not far removed from its humble beginnings at Princeton University — where it won the school’s Business Plan Contest in 2001 — a recent spread of the company’s technology has lifted it to an internationally relevant status. Besides Africa, entities in Europe and the Caribbean have utilized the company’s products.
Hammell has an analogy he uses for his company’s place in its industry, and it helps explain the proliferation of the company’s technology:
“It’s like we have the pickax in the Gold Rush.”
As profit-hungry eyes turn to a booming frontier — the energy market — Princeton Power Systems is trying to strike it rich by providing these tools: simplified energy management solutions and efficient microgrid setups.
And having foreign partners as a primarily solar-focused company in New Jersey has become essential to it thriving, given that legislative uncertainty has led to the state’s solar market bottoming out.
“In one sense, sure, it affects us — it’s our backyard,” Hammell said. “But, in another sense, it’s not too harmful for a company that’s global, because we can go where the business is.”