Costa Rica Hotel to Set Up Microgrid with Heila Technologies Controller

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The owners of a Marriott hotel in Costa Rica are installing a microgrid in a first for the Marriott chain in Latin America.

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Marriott Hacienda Belén in Costa Rica installs microgrid. Photo courtesy of Heila Technologies.

The solar plus storage microgrid at the Costa Rica Marriott Hacienda Belén will use control and optimization software made by Heila Technologies, the companies said July 13.

The project includes 250 kW of solar, a 360-kW/720-kWh battery storage system and a 1 MVA backup generator.

The microgrid will allow the hotel in La Ribera to avoid 21 tons of greenhouse gas a year, reduce electricity use and increase its resilience from electrical outages.

“Our goal with this initiative is to help the environment by reducing carbon emissions while also reducing electricity consumption,” said Daniel Grew, strategic sustainability adviser for CPG Hospitality, one of the hotel’s owners.

Greenenergy, a Costa Rican company, will install the microgrid with Heila Technologies, a Somerville, Massachusetts-based company.

Heila Technologies expects it will continue working with greenenergy to provide microgrids to Costa Rican and regional companies, according to Francisco Morocz, Heila Technologies’ chief executive officer.

The microgrid is set to be in place in November.

Costa Rica microgrid market grows

Costa Rica has at least two other microgrids. CleanSpark is developing one for an international component assembly and manufacturing company that makes sensitive components for industries from robotics to telecommunications.

In August 2020, CleanSpark and Sunshine Energy, a Costa Rican solar energy and microgrid company, announced a partnership under which Sunshine would exclusively sell CleanSpark’s batteries and energy control systems.

Sunshine is pursuing microgrid development throughout the region.

The first microgrid in Costa Rica was installed in 2016 for a medical manufacturing plant owned by Establishment Labs. The microgrid was developed by Demand Energy, which was bought by Enel X, and Rio Grande Renewables.

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Costa Rica, Central America ripe market for microgrids

The market for microgrids in Costa Rica and greater Central America shows good short- and long-term potential, according to Ignacio Salazar, greenenergy’s commercial director.

“The relatively high electricity rates in the region and frequent outages due to climate-related factors make the region an up-and-coming market for microgrids not only today but over the longer term as well,” Salazar said.

Salazar said there are always local factors like utility interconnection requirements, net energy metering (NEM) policies and local jurisdictional considerations that need to be taken into account to get projects funded and completed correctly.

However, policy changes are needed for the markets to grow exponentially, Salazar said, pointing to better NEM policy guidance and incentive schemes like demand response programs that can support the local distribution network during the late evening peaks.  

“The latter would really open up the market and incentivize combining solar with battery storage with even more use-cases than what we see today, which are primarily resiliency and utility bill savings,” Salazar said.

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