Powering Paradise

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Power Generation

Likuliku…one of the best destinations on the planet.

Fiji’s Likuliku Lagoon Resort has been described as ‘one of the best destinations on the planet’. MURRAY CLIFFORD went there for a behind-the-scenes look at how this island paradise is powered.

A passionate Steve Anstey refers to Likuliku resort as “she”.

“She’s very special,” says the group general manager of Ahura Resorts, owner of Likuliku. (Anyone who has stayed at the couples-only Likuliku would enthusiastically agree with his comment.)

“The thing that really sets us apart is that we are the only resort in Fiji with over-water bures (bungalows).

“We have welcomed back many return guests…some who are on their 10th stay.”

Fijian-owned Likuliku with its 45 bures has won numerous accolades and awards… ‘best overseas resort’ and ‘one of the best destinations on the planet’ to name just a couple.

Steve Anstey’s background is in opening and running luxury resorts. “I love opening places like this,” he says, gazing out at Likuliku’s turquoise lagoon.

“It’s incredibly rewarding…a dream come true.

“When I first came here in 2005 there was nothing but bush. In April 2007 we opened Likuliku.”

He describes developing and building a new resort such as Likuliku as a “maelstrom”.

“We had 54 containers of just furniture and equipment that had to be sent here by barge. Everything had to be shipped by barge…one barge sunk with over $100,000 of equipment on it.”

Anstey knew a reliable prime power system would be critical for Likuliku as a remote island resort. However, despite the best intentions the system didn’t meet expectations.

“Reliable power is everything,” he says. “It’s critical…if the fridges aren’t working, if there’s no water…you don’t have an island resort.”

The three generator sets originally installed at Likuliku had problems from day one.

“They were noisy, they overheated, and there were control issues,” says Jason Philp, group engineer for Ahura Resorts which owns Likuliku and the nearby Mololo Island resort.

The three gensets at Likuliku automatically assume the duty role on a rotating basis to ensure that no one unit has excessive usage.

“At the beginning of 2011 we were having outages every day.”

By that stage Anstey and Philp had already begun investigations into a new power station.

Philp had earlier had involvement with Cummins when he was maintenance manager at one of Australia’ most exclusive resorts at Bedarra Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

He was impressed with the prime power system installed by Cummins on Bedarra Island and had no hesitation contacting Cummins about the design and installation of a new power station at Likuliku.

Steve Anstey was still a little wary. “I knew of the Bedarra Island installation but made sure the Cummins people knew we’d been bitten at Likuliku and were very shy.”

The Likuliku power station project was headed up by Jeff Evans and Grant McWhinnie from Cummins Brisbane – two specialists in the Cummins power generation field, Evans as national projects manager and McWhinnie as application engineer.

“Jeff and Grant have been unbelievably professional…the whole project has been on-time and on-schedule,” says Steve Anstey.

“Everyone out there wants to sell you equipment but not everyone is prepared to provide the technical and after-sales support.

“My experience is that the service and support we’ve received from Cummins is very rare.

 “The new power station is probably the most seamless thing we’ve done here…it has been effortless.”

Prior to the Likuliku installation, Cummins also put in a new power system at the nearby Malolo Island resort, also owned by Ahura Resorts and managed by Steve Anstey.

For Malolo Island, two Cummins C250D5B gensets – each rated to182 kW for prime power load – were selected as a good match to the site’s 24-hour load profile.

At Likuliku, the higher daytime peak load required greater system capacity. To maximise commonality of systems between the resorts, the same generator model was retained, but three generators were installed.

The maximum power demand at Likuliku requires at least two of the gensets to be operational at any one time – one machine continuously running to supply the base load, with the second to automatically come on line during peak load periods – while the third genset is on standby in the unlikely event of any problems.

The three gensets automatically assume the duty role on a rotating basis to ensure that no one unit has excessive usage.

A Cummins DMC200 Digital Master Controller at each site provides the automatic logic control to determine what combination of machines needs to run to cover the varying site loads while minimising fuel consumption without compromising site operations.

Special logic design also controls service interval rotation of the gensets to automatically start the alternate machine when an engine service becomes due. The power station operator is also alerted to the service requirement.

An oil reserve system complements each genset to enable service intervals to be extended from 250 to 500 hours.

Now that the finer technical points of the power system are out of the way, let me tell you a little more about Likuliku…it’s not just the picture-perfect setting or the over-water bungalows that tempt guests, it’s also the exquisite food. A magical sanctuary, indeed.

A job well done…Ahura Resorts’ group engineer Jason Philp (left) congratulates Cummins power generation application engineer Grant McWhinnie soon after the new Likuliku power station is on line.

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