Last year, I noted that there was no power for 2 consecutive days during our first month of living on St. Kitts. The ostensible reason given was that the government-run electricity company was installing a new power generator to prevent load shedding (i.e. outages) in the future. Similar prolonged outages repeated a few times in subsequent months, but after that the situation stabilized. We have had fairly decent power supply over the course of 2008.
That was until October. On October 1st, we noticed one or more outages, which preceded a fire in the power plant on the morning of October 2nd. This fire brought 50% of the generating capacity offline, and we noticed this as frequent and repeated outages on October 2nd and 3rd. As of today, October 4th, electricity is being shut off at different parts of the island at largely unpredictable times and for largely unpredictable durations. Our area was without power for ten hours, from 08:30 to 18:30 today.
It all looks like this is going to continue at least until Monday. They're supposed to be putting online a smaller generator that was previously in maintenance, which will bring capacity up to 80% of peak demand. Further blackouts are certain for at least two weeks, as it takes time to repair at least the smaller one of the two generators that were damaged in the fire. With a power generating capacity of only 60% today, however, tomorrow we're most likely looking forward to another power-less Sunday.
This would have all been much easier to bear if the development we live in, St. Christopher Club, had a generator on backup, as many other businesses and institutions do, as well as most developments that cater to tourists. Unfortunately, the people who decide such things here, did purchase a generator, but are not keeping it online, as they consider the cost of maintenance too expensive. Apparently, the impact on the residents' quality of life (and in our case, loss off time that could be spent working) was not a factor in their equation.
I'm currently looking for a UPS solution, one that lasts longer than classic battery-based UPS, and can provide power to laptops and office equipment, as well as possibly a refrigerator, for at least 12 hours, although preferably up to 48. I'd like to avoid an oil-based generator, as they are loud and require frequent refueling, and thus onerous trips for gas. A nice solution would be a self-refueling UPS system based on water and fuel cells, which when powered would separate hydrogen and oxygen in water through electrolysis and store them in separate tanks, but when unpowered, would burn the hydrogen and oxygen back into water, producing electricity in the process. The best solution would be a closed system that doesn't burn oxygen from air, which would allow it to be stored inside without a risk of suffocation - if there is any such risk at all; it ought to be durable, not requiring new expensive batteries every 3 years; and it might be able to store sufficient capacity to last 12 hours, or even possibly days. Any tips?
Edited: Here's a fuel cell. Delivers up to 5 kW. Now all someone needs to do is bundle this into a system that will electrolyze water when there's power, and burn hydrogen when there is not.
It would sure beat 500 kg worth of batteries. That need replacing in 3-5 years.