A Clean, Reliable Power Solution for Caribbean Hotels and Resorts
By Alexander Britell
It’s one of the biggest issues for any large resort or project in the Caribbean: power generation. And it’s even harder to do so in a clean, green, cost-effective way. More and more projects in the region are turning to E-Finity Distributed Generation, which covers every stage of the process to provide clean, low-cost energy to the projects that need it. To learn more about the company and its work in the Caribbean, CJI caught up with Jeff Beiter, the owner of E-Finity, to talk about the company’s microturbine technology, its most recent Caribbean projects and the future of green energy.
Please tell us a little bit about E-Finity Distributed Generation and what it is you do.
E-Finity Distributed Generation is an established power generation company that designs, installs, operates, maintains and owns onsite clean energy power solutions with Microturbine technology, solar panels, battery storage systems and wind energy. Through long term plant operation programs, E-Finity ensures that our onsite power systems will operate at peak performance, allowing resorts, hotels or any commercial or industrial customer in the Caribbean islands to have power that is less expensive, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly than the utility grid. E-Finity currently boasts an operating fleet of more than 750 power plants for clients such as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels.
What projects have you completed in Caribbean?
We currently operate and maintain several power plants in the Caribbean including Margaritaville and Magens Junction in St. Thomas, Plaza Extra in St. Croix and are in the process of commissioning Donoe in St Thomas and Walkers Cay in the Bahamas. We also have a large pipeline of hotels and resorts that will be coming online this year and next.
Why is on-site power generation more beneficial in the Caribbean?
Power in the Caribbean tends to be very expensive and unreliable. The inefficiencies of the power plants, transmission and distribution lines and the use of dirty and expensive fuel sources, mainly diesel fuel, result in the high costs, and the seasonal environmental events make reliability of the power supply a challenge for utilities. When we deploy our power plants in the Caribbean, we’re able to generate power for half of what the utilities charge because we are able to eliminate inefficiencies. With the use of multiple generation sources such as microturbines, solar and BEES, we ensure the high reliability required by end customers. This allows customers to save potentially millions of dollars a year on their utility bills and at the same time be greener because of the green technologies we use in addition to readily available low emission propane or Natural Gas/LNG.
Do you specialize in certain areas or islands?
We can serve all the Caribbean islands from eastern Barbados to the most western Bahamian cay; and we service any kind of customer, from big resorts or industrial facilities to small hotels or commercial buildings. Based on our broad product portfolio, we can power installations as small as 10 kW or as big as 20 MW, providing customers clean onsite power generation systems. These systems will guarantee our customers stable, reliable, low cost- power, when and where they need it, giving them the Power to be Independent.
Can you explain what financing options are available?
We are able to offer our customers several different financing options to get the projects going. The easiest and most common these days will be a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or an Energy as a Service (EaaS) in which we will make all the capital investment required for the project, install, operate and maintain the system and share the savings with the end customer for the duration of the contract. This allows an end customer to get a significant benefit starting from day one without investing any capital.
Once a project is finished, how does the system function and get maintained?
Once the system is installed E-Finity offers 5 to 20-year fixed cost service agreements. The plans are all inclusive and cover all the power generation assets. All maintenance works is performed by factory technicians and we monitor our sites 24 hours a day in our state-of-the-art remote monitoring center. This allows the end user peace of mind and they don’t have to worry about touching the system. Currently we maintain over 750 power generation assets from high-end resorts, critical utility infrastructure, and highly classified military installations.
Solar power is of obvious interest in the Caribbean. Can you tell us about that?
Solar power is definitely becoming more important as environmental concerns evolve and also because of a significant reduction in the initial investment required for these kinds of systems. We have the ability and experience to include Solar power into any microgrid solution so that the onsite power system implemented demands the least amount of fuel possible while maintaining the highest reliability possible.
How do you store and deliver power when and where it is needed?
By including a battery storage system into a microgrid solution we are able to store energy and delivery when it is required. This type of solution allows us to operate all the power generation assets in a microgrid at the highest efficiency possible and provide the most cost-effective solution. Our mTIM Microgrid Controller is responsible for coordinating and dispatching the appropriate generation asset 24/7 so that the overall efficiency levels of the microgrid are kept at their optimum levels.
Do you do renovations as well as new construction?
Yes, and here is where we really deliver value to owners or developers. The basic concept of onsite power generation and side benefits of using free thermal waste heat for making hot or chilled water simultaneously remains the same but the benefits grow significantly. The only difference between a renovation and a new construction is that we will be able to more accurately assess electricity and thermal energy demands rather than depending on estimates, the energy efficiency solution will be equally feasible for either situation if its properly sized and installed. The best timing to do a renovation is normally when there is a boiler or chiller upgrade in the budget. So, if you’re looking at replacing boilers or air conditioning systems you should definitely be doing it with a Combined Heating and Cooling System (CHP or CCHP) that’s driven from the turbine exhaust.
Can E-Finity deliver power generation in remote and isolated locations?
Yes, most definitely. For the past fifteen years the company has built many power plants used in resource recovery. Our teams efforts in designing and operating these stand alone remote power plants in the oil & gas industry allows us to bring that same reliability and expertise to the Caribbean utilizing green technologies. Walkers Cay or Margaritaville in St Thomas are prime examples.
There is a lot of interest in renewable fuels. Can you tell us about that?
We can utilize renewable fuels in our microturbine systems, that are generated from food waste, waste water treatment plants, and farm digesters. As the market for renewable fuels and hydrogen continues to develop in the not so distant future we’ll be able to bring our clients to 100% renewable power.
We can also offer more conventional financing options like leasing or rental for the equipment for a specified period of time. Once the contract expires, we can either renew or transfer the equipment to the end customer for a pre-negotiated fee.
E-Finity has been involved in power generation for a long time. What changes have you seen over that time?
The power generation industry is very dynamic, and you can see changes heavily influenced by global macro-economic conditions and the green environmental movement. Right now, we are seeing an increased appetite for resorts to generate their own power and not rely on unreliable utilities that mostly generate power with high emission fuels like diesel. We’re also seeing a demand in PPA contracts for power generation assets from project developers and what we are trying to do is show the added benefits of including CHP/CCHP applications in a microgrid solution to produce the best cost-benefit technological solution for those projects. This push is allowing resorts to save money, get more reliable power and lower their carbon footprint.
For more, visit E-Finity.