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Brian Marinelli & Elderfield Roberts

Trading the sunny shores of Florida for the turquoise waters of USVI in 2012, Brian has been working with solar power since 1996. With a passion for all things ocean related, when not at work, this Director at Solar Systems can be found diving, boating or shooting the breeze at Island Time Pub.

Born and raised in St. John, Elderfield left his beloved island to obtain a BA in Architecture. Also a licensed architect and contractor, this COO at Solar Systems is a self-professed bookworm and lover of island music. When not saving the earth, one solar panel at a time, he can be found boating.


RL: How did you end up living and working in the US Virgin Islands?

BM: Looking for a new and exciting opportunity, I was asked how I felt about living in the islands. I simply replied, “All we need is a plane ticket.”

ER: I was born in the Virgin Islands and after studying architecture in the US, I wanted to come home to design, travel and enjoy my islands.

RL: Why should people incorporate solar products into their homes?

BM: We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. Solar panels do not pollute the air we breathe; they operate quietly with no moving parts; they promote energy conservation and raise awareness of how we must protect the planet for the future.

ER: In the Caribbean we have access to so much solar and wind energy. We need to harness these opportunities that help keep our islands beautiful.

RL: What kind of products do you offer?

BM: We offer energy efficient lighting, solar hot water heating, solar pool heating and solar electric (PV) systems for both residential and commercial clients.


RL: How easy is it to incorporate these products into existing homes?

BM: For almost any home or business there is a way to integrate the use of solar energy. We have a team devoted to developing financing options for our customers to assure that all qualified customers can go green.

RL: What kind of savings can one expect?

BM: Solar electric systems (PV) can save an owner an average of 1550kWh per year for every kilowatt installed. Solar hot water systems typically save a homeowner 1100-2200 kWhrs per year depending upon the system size and average consumption. We provide our clients with an energy production model based on these factors and the last 20 years of weather patterns relative to the site location.

RL: What are the challenges of working in the Caribbean?

BM: The greatest challenge has been getting net metering adopted throughout the islands. This allows consumers to interconnect to the utility grid and sell back surplus production for a credit to the utility provider.


RL: What are you working on at present?

BM: We’re currently working on a 500kW array that is being installed at Bluebeard’s Castle Resort in St. Thomas which, when completed, will satisfy nearly 60% of the entire resort’s utility consumption.

ER: I’m training young locals to work with solar power so they can feel good and appreciate what they are doing for the community and the world.

RL: What new project do you have on the horizon?

BM: We recently opened new offices in St. John, and we’re now incorporated and licensed to perform installations in BVI. We’re also working on setting up an operation in Anguilla.

ER: We’re hoping to open an accredited training school where we can teach the young work force to work with photovoltaic systems.

RL: What achievement are you proud of?

BM: The Bluebeard’s project. We faced several challenges that required creative solutions.

ER: I’m proud to have trained local workers and to be installing the largest PV systems in the eastern Caribbean.


$articleImageAltRL:What inspires you today?

BM: The growth of our firm, Solar Systems, and the communities that have embraced us as a saving grace from the ever increasing cost of electricity in the islands.

ER: The fact that I live in such a beautiful place and have a job that challenges me day-in-and-day-out. Best of all, the smile on a customer’s face when they see their first $5 electricity bill - that keeps me energised.

Destination Brian

To get away from it all, I go to: SCUBA diving – anywhere.

Favourite place to stay: Sky Valley, Georgia.

Next on the list to visit: Australia.

Top place for a drink: Island Time Pub.

My suitcase must contain: Snorkel, mask and fins.

Best kept secret: Taking the fifth – sorry!

Elderfield's Top Picks

Green product: Micro-inverters. They are consumer friendly and provide a lot of visual information that homeowners can understand, even if they aren’t techie.

Furniture: My boat seat. When I’m out on the water, I’m free.

Book: Any book my daughter is reading. I love to see children read.

Music: Reggae and calypso – I’m an island man.

For more information please visit the official Solar Systems website or email Brian Marinelli ().

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