A few generations ago, before booking an overnight reservation, travelers would generally ask if a hotel had a pool, cable TV and a bar. But today before checking in, some savvy hotel guests are asking questions about air quality, water conservation and how often the housekeeping staff changes the towels and sheets. And they may already know the answers.
Before choosing a destination, travelers can check several online databases to see if a hotel or motel is environmentally friendly. The lists are posted by different green lodging certification programs that award green seals of approval to hotels, motels and inns that qualify.
Touting environmental upgrades and innovations are part of the greening of the hospitality market, an industry evolution that is picking up some serious steam these days. The shift started slowly about 15 years ago, and there were no races among cost-conscious hoteliers to jump on the bandwagon.
Still, many chains and independent operators switched over to chemical-free cleaners, low-flush toilets and an every-other day change of linens and towels in order to earn their green seals. It was, after all, good marketing.
Now, however, the hospitality industry is seen green innovations in very practical terms – they save significant amounts of cash. And some of the major players in the market are no longer tinkering at the edges of the green-lodging movement with organic mini soaps and recycling bins. Some hotels are making major investments in solar power.
The Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, NJ, recently installed a 32,000sf, 421-kilowatt system over the top floor of the hotel’s garage. According to Hyatt, the new solar panels will reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000 tons over the next 30 years, and will help lessen oil dependence by at least 749 barrels annually.
On the West Coast, San Francisco’s Hotel Carlton is blazing the solar trail with a photovoltaic system that produces about 12 percent of the building's electricity. And solar energy isn't exclusive to higher end hotels. Comfort Inn and Suites is also embracing solar and its bottom-line benefits.
The Comfort Inn in Bozeman, Montana has 24 solar panels heating up enough water to satisfy 65 percent of the hotel's hot-water needs. Management says the panels saved the business $3,800 in natural gas costs over the first nine months. At the Comfort Inn La Estancia near San Diego, the management hoping to see similar savings once its 83 kilowatt photovoltaic system is in place.
SOLAR MAKES SENSE
Investing in solar power makes sense for many businesses. For the hospitality market it makes nothing but sense. Hotels and motels consume vast amounts of energy. At large hotels and resorts hundreds of lights, air-conditioners and televisions burn fuel 24/7 and in many cases, guests aren't even in the room. According to the federal government’s Energy Star program, U.S. hotels spend an average of $2,196 per room each year on energy.
A study by Sage Blossom Consulting of 4,400 of the more than 50,000 hotels across the United States found 12 percent use some type of alternative energy. And that figure is starting to rise as the hospitality industry look for cheaper and greener types of energy.
Solar power is a perfect match for hotels and resorts that cater to tourists in Sunbelt states. Florida and California are leading the hospitality industry in green initiatives.
Some hotel owners are even choosing to become energy operators with solar energy systems that collect power during sun's peak morning and afternoon hours, the times when most guest are out of their rooms. Hotels sell that energy to the grids for peak daytime hour prices and then buy discount evening-hour energy to power the A/C for returning guests.
INCENTIVES TO INVEST
For many in the hospitality industry, the roadblock to buying into solar is the initial investment, which can be substantial. However, there are many loan programs, grants rebates and tax credits available. The ticket price for the photovoltaic system at the Hotel Carlton was $163,951, but after rebates and tax credits the net cost was only $13,727.
The Westin Westminster in Colorado has applied for a federal grant and a rebate from Xcel energy to help pay for the new 32-kilowatt solar energy system that will help provide power to its 369 rooms.
Hotel owners and managers who have invested in solar say savings in energy costs start immediately. And many expect to see a bump in reservations thanks to the green travel and tourism guides that let travelers know which hotels are making a commitment to the environment.
Sungrow links Europe's largest energy storage plant to grid
Europe's largest energy storage project, the 100MW/100MWh Minety plant featuring Sungrow's 1500V energy storage system solutions, has been successfully connected to the UK grid.
The UK experienced the most debilitating blackout in nearly a decade in August 2019. The incident exposed the serious lack of frequency regulation of the national grid and demonstrated that the construction of energy storage projects that can regulate the frequency of the grid in a timely fashion should be prioritised. The Minety project, which began at the end of 2019, considerably mitigates the problem and is designed for facilitating grid stability and maximising renewable energy utilisation.
Sungrow supplied both NCM and LFP battery energy storage system solutions featuring high integration, which minimise the footprint, slash the commissioning duration and significantly reduce the system cost by 5%. The solution well meets the latest UK frequency regulation requirement called dynamic containment - requesting the plant to respond to the power instruction of the grid within 1 second, making the project one of the rare 30% of the UK's storage plants equipped with this function.
"We are proud of being part of this landmark project, offering solutions with extreme efficiency and safety while in compliance with the stringent UK grid codes," said James Wu, Vice President of Sungrow, which shipped more than 800MWh of energy storage systems in 2020.
Battery storage capacity in the UK is likely to heavily increase as move towards operating a zero-carbon energy system. At the end of 2019 the GB battery storage capacity was 0.88GWh. National Grid forecasts it could be as high as 2.30GWh in 2025.
Global energy storage updates
TEVOCS has announced the launch of a powerful series of universal portable power stations that provide reliable power for off-grid situations, travel, home backup and more. With an impressive 2080WH capacity and 2000W output, the TEVOCS power station is billed as 'the ultimate power station for modern life' and is available here.
Enlight Renewable Energy has completed the acquisition of 90.1% of the holdings in Clēnera LLC, a leading and seasoned company in the field of initiation, development, construction and operation of solar energy and energy storage projects in the United States.
Last month Canadian Solar Inc. was awarded the first utility-scale battery storage project in Colombia of 45 MW/45 MWh. The project was awarded in the public tender launched by Colombia's Ministry of Energy and Mines, via its affiliate UPME, the Mining and Energy Planning Unit.