Clean and Green On-Site Distributed Power Generation Plants for Disaster Preparedness

Clean and Green On-Site Distributed Power Generation Plants for Disaster Preparedness

An InCarib Interview: E-Finity Distributed Generation

What is a most pressing concern in the Caribbean that your industry can address?

Considering recent heightened awareness about climate change and the increase of critical weather patterns across the Caribbean, facilities must be prepared to batten down the hatches and weather these storms the best way they can. Disaster preparedness and the need to protect critical infrastructure facilities, is now on the top of the agenda for most Caribbean Governments, Utility providers, medical facilities, hotels, and resorts, etc… Aging and unreliable infrastructure, and no back-up plans in place, can result in long lasting blackouts and/or higher operational costs like we continue to see in Puerto Rico after the hurricanes in 2017. Distributed generation assets will provide the reliability and resiliency that are key for the Caribbean to build back from the storms that have already passed and the many that are sure to affect the region in the future.

What solutions can your company provide to address this issue?

E-finity Distributed Generation is helping to address critical infrastructure issues by providing clean and green onsite distributed generation power plants that could be complemented with combined heat and power solutions, immediately or as a second phase.

Utilizing microturbines and combining them with solar PV and battery storage on a microgrid can be an ideal solution for a variety of facilities,and can save lives by providing power in emergency situations such as storms, overloads, and security breaches. When complementing with a CHP solution, buildings can become more resilient and mitigate the impacts of an emergency – keeping them running not only on the electricity side but also producing their own hot water, chilled water, and/or steam onsite, with or without the local utility, and providing the ability to become independent from the utility grid for long periods of time, if and when required.

By being able to operate without the electric grid, a site is able to improve resiliency, mitigate the impacts of a disaster while providing energy cost savings  both by increasing operational efficiencies and by shifting from more expensive fuels like diesel to cheaper and with lower emissions fuels like natural gas or propane, all while providing reliability during grid outages.

These power generation solutions can also be deployed for critical infrastructure such as potable water pumping stations, communications towers, data processing facilities, water treatment facilities, etc., that will provide communities the means to continue to live through the these very tough environmental events that will continue to occur.

We have the ability to deploy anywhere from 30 kW to a few MW within 3 to 6 months that could address customer’s electricity needs and then, on a second phase, integrate all the CHP solution components that will complement the energy efficiency project that will render the resiliency and the savings that everyone is looking for in the long run.

Give us a quick overview of the technology behind E-Finity’s product portfolio.

An onsite power generation solution can include a Capstone Microturbine, a solar PV panel and/or a battery storage working together in a microgrid solution that will not only provide the reliability and resiliency that Caribbean customers need but will also build in the benefits of being environmentally friendly and will help further control fuel costs.  We are also able to include heat recovery solutions that will allow for simultaneous production of usable thermal energy right on a customer’s site. This thermal heat recovery is what makes CHP technology more efficient than typical power plants, reaching fuel efficiencies of up to 85%, compared to about 45% for conventional separate heat and power solutions.

Further, backup generators are commonly relied on in the Region mainly for emergency situations. Our continuous power generation solutions that run consistently 24/7 throughout the year will provide a higher level of reliability in an emergency situation than a backup generator that operates only sporadically as/when needed.

Share a Success Story: Tell us about a project that utilized this system during a disaster situation.

We’ve seen some amazing results with our Capstone Microturbine installations and are happy to share our experience during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 in the Caribbean and also from Hurricane Sandy back in 2012 in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.

For example, in 2017, when Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, the power grid did not withstand the destruction, leaving most of the island powerless for over 5 months. Fortunately for Margaritaville Vacation Club, a Whydham Resort located in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, decided early on during their construction in 2014, that they were going to reduce operating costs and protect themselves from an unreliable utility grid.

The best path for the resort was to find a cost-effective power solution that would allow the resort to expand its power supply as the hotel increased its power demand. Triton Energy was selected to install the high efficiency, low emission Capstone microturbines.  The first phase counted with a 1.000 kW package solution that later, on a second phase, was upgraded with an additional 800 kW unit, for a total of 1.800 kW currently installed. The site is monitored remotely and using state of the art technology so technicians can troubleshoot and diagnose issues via the internet. The entire system is fuelled by clean-burning propane, which replaced the need for costly, higher-polluting fuels like diesel. The installation also included a 35,000-gallon, on-site propane storage tank that provides enough fuel to sustain on-site power generation for 14 consecutive days. When Hurricane Irma struck St.Thomas in 2017, the system continued to power through the extreme conditions that caused most of the islands power to be out for over 5 months. The hotel ended up housing both FEMA and US Army Corps of Engineers personnel for an extended period of time during the recovery of the island while all other hotels remained closed.

Since then we have deployed additional microgrid systems at a residential project in the Magen’s Bay area in St Thomas and at a supermarket in St. Croix that decided to address their concerns against environmental events.  For these projects we have installed microturbines, battery storage and solar PV panels in a microgrid to power the facilities while guaranteeing to lower the fuel costs as much as possible and provide an additional level of redundancy to the system.

Thank you for your contribution to this Blog feature, E-finity. We hope other companies operating in the Region will see the value in sharing their experiences, and end-users will learn how your specialized technologies may help them during future project planning. You can learn more about Efinity here

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