Home Energy Management More Than Ever, Solar Makes Sense for U.S. Hotel Industry

More Than Ever, Solar Makes Sense for U.S. Hotel Industry

Glenn Hasek

Green Lodging News’ list of Solar Powered hotels in its Renewable Energy All Stars section grew by yet another this past week with the announcement of the completion of a 269 kW photovoltaic system at the Ramada Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, Calif. The installation is projected to produce 426,000 kWh of power annually. The electricity generated by the system is expected to power at least 70 percent of the hotel’s 175 guestrooms, public lighting and three EV charging stations.

The clean energy produced by the system is expected to equal a reduction of 8,727 tons of CO2 over 25 years or planting 203,000 trees. In addition to the environmental benefits, the PV system has the potential to save the hotel approximately $100,000 per year.

The article about the Ramada Silicon Valley comes the same week as my article just posted about the use of solar energy for water heating. Be sure to read this article that explains the basic differences between the two main types of solar water heating systems—evacuated tube and flat plate. The article also provides some specific examples of hotels benefiting from solar water heating.

U.S. Solar Market Had Best Year in 2016

The number of solar powered hotels continues to grow in the United States primarily due to plummeting costs and available incentives. According to the Solar Energy Industries Assn. (SEIA), the U.S. solar market had its biggest year ever in 2016, nearly doubling its previous record and adding more electric generating capacity than any other source of energy for the first time ever. On average, U.S. solar photovoltaic system pricing fell by nearly 20 percent in 2016.

“It would be hard to overstate how impressive 2016 was for the solar industry,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO, in a recent press release. “Prices dropped to all-time lows, installations expanded in states across the country and job numbers soared. The bottom line is that more people are benefitting from solar now than at any point in the past, and while the market is changing, the broader trend over the next five years is going in one direction—and that’s up.”

According to William Chen, COO and VP of Engineering for Adroit Energy, costs have not gone down as much for solar water heating systems but the potential return on investment remains attractive. At the 439-room Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, for example, Director of Engineering Wes Shirley expects an ROI of a little more than three years for a 20-panel system on the hotel’s roof.

Says Shirley, “We used to get guest calls about hot water. We have not had a single hot water call since we installed it. The boilers only fire up on the weekends or during very busy times. We used to have a boiler company come out every three months. We have not had to call them a single time.” Shirley adds that the system has a 25-year life expectancy.

Rely on Expert Advice

As explained in my article, even in cloudy, northern climates, solar can make sense for water heating and to supplement utility-generated electricity. The key is to talk to an expert and their customers first before moving forward with plans.

For hoteliers, Adroit Energy’s Chen recommends finding a reputable and licensed contractor with a large portfolio of successful commercial projects.

Adds Dave Crawmer, President & CEO, Solar America Solutions, “Ask for references. Ask the people who write the checks.”

If your property has a solar installation that is not listed on our website, be sure to let me know. I will gladly add it. And, if you believe your current or upcoming solar project is worthy of editorial coverage, contact me at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.

Green Lodging News Adds Avendra as Trends Report Supporter

Green Lodging News welcomes Avendra as a supporter of the Green Lodging Trends Report. The Green Lodging Trends Report is the lodging industry’s annual exercise to assess and catalyze green innovation, best practices, and awareness regarding the state of sustainability across hotels worldwide. This year’s Green Lodging Trends Report will summarize the results of a second annual survey produced by Green Lodging News and Greenview. This year’s survey will go “live” on May 1.

Formed in 2001, Avendra is North America’s leading procurement services provider serving the hospitality and lodging industries. Avendra customers gain access to contracts leveraging over $4 billion of annual purchases, expert advisory services and in-depth purchasing data and analysis. Through Avendra, customers obtain substantial savings on their purchases and other value added services to improve their operations and bottom line results. More than 7,000 hospitality businesses rely on Avendra’s procurement solutions to help meet their strategic business initiatives.

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