Remote and regional power security

Optimal Group Australia recently completed its first project in Fiji, a resort island nation where power is difficult to come by and equally difficult to secure. The success of this venture is a great example of how remote and regional communities can benefit from the power security afforded by using Capstone microturbines.

Our project in Fiji used six Capstone C65 microturbines to power an entire resort island. We configured the microturbines in a standalone mode, where they were able to act as a voltage reference and serve as the area’s primary source of power.

Each C65 unit is capable of producing up to 65 kW of electricity. Heat is not being recovered at this stage, but nonetheless, there is a great deal of potential for cogeneration or trigeneration applications, which could be part of future enhancements to the system.

Making power available in Fiji

Fiji is a country with almost 1 million inhabitants, but it’s in a remote location that’s not easily accessible when it comes to supplying power. For this reason, it’s difficult to provide reliable power in the region, and resort managers in the tourist destination nation are eager to find a provider they can trust.

A need for reliability was the main reason why our client in Fiji chose microturbines to replace their existing diesel reciprocating engine system. Microturbines are more reliable than the alternative because they have only one moving part and operate without coolant or lubricants – which significantly increases service and maintenance intervals. This high level of reliability results in fewer breakdowns, which means service and maintenance costs are reduced. More importantly, power disruptions to the island are minimised, ensuring the comfort and safety of guests. Moreover, the absence of coolants or lubricants means less maintenance is fewer hazardous materials are stored.

Because Optimal Group’s energy solution is the primary source of power on the island, the system is able to react quickly to load demand fluctuations throughout the day, month or year. Our machines are particularly well suited to applications that require flexibility, even when there may be wildly variable electrical demands. Our Capstone microturbines can provide power at anywhere from 10 percent to 100 percent of their full output, meaning they’re highly flexible to meet client needs.

In addition, the modular system design of the six turbines allows for additional redundancy and security of power supply. In the event that one of the turbines is out of service, the remaining five can continue to operate and supply power with some load shedding.

Reducing emissions, minimising noise

Clean emissions and low noise levels were important criteria for this particular client, as the island is a resort where guests come for holidays. Therefore, they needed a power generation system that would not pollute the pristine island air or create noise that would disturb guests who were there to relax.

Fortunately, Capstone microturbines produce ultra-low emissions and very little noise. The emissions are a fraction of what diesel and gas reciprocating engines produce and are compliant with the most stringent emissions standards around the world, including those imposed by the California Air Resources Board. The noise produced is 65 dB(A) at 10 metres at 100 percent load. These levels are achieved from the standard factory package without additional silencers or attenuators.

For this project, Optimal Group was able to provide a Capstone solution that will produce cleaner energy that is both reliable and modular, as well as dynamic in its ability to provide varying amounts of power. Bringing power to Fiji presented unique challenges, but our solution was able to overcome them with ease.