Home Publisher's Point of View For Hotels 80 Rooms & Above, Microturbines Can Pay Big Dividends

For Hotels 80 Rooms & Above, Microturbines Can Pay Big Dividends

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Back in 2009, the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia (now The Logan) installed three C65 microturbines from Capstone Turbine Corp. The goal of the combined heat and power system (CHP), according to Marvin Dixon, now V.P. of Engineering at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, who was at the hotel at the time, was to take care of all of the hotel’s water heating. The microturbines—the same ones that have been in place since 2009—have also been meeting 20 percent of the hotel’s electricity needs. Dixon says it is doing that cheaper than if the hotel were generating electricity off the grid. Also, the microturbines are covering 75 percent of the hotel’s building heating needs.

In just the first two months of using the technology that was implemented seven years ago, the hotel saved $80,000. “We reduced our energy costs by 30 percent,” Dixon says. With the help of a rebate of $148,000 from the local utility, the owners of the hotel were able to recover their investment in the microturbines in less than three years.

There is some periodic maintenance, Dixon says, but not much. “There is only one moving part,” he says. “It moves extremely fast—110,000 rpm. It actually floats in air.” Microturbines are highly efficient, quiet, require no oil or antifreeze, and can run on a variety of gaseous or liquid fuels.

During an interview with Darren Jamison, CEO of Capstone Turbine (the company is not a Green Lodging News advertiser), I asked him what size property is best for a microturbine. He told me 80 rooms or above. I suspect microturbines could help many of you reading this column.

Can Also Help with Air-Conditioning

“Hotels are great opportunities because they are operating 24/7,” Jamison says. “They have thermal loads that are steady. We are making hot water for the kitchen, laundry, swimming pool and other needs [such as space heating]. Using an absorption chiller we can make chilled water for air-conditioning.”

Microturbines are designed to run parallel with one another and parallel with the grid. They can also run independent of the grid.

Generally, hoteliers can expect paybacks of four to five years for their investments. Incentives and tax credits can significantly reduce upfront cost for the systems that can run for 20 years. There is a 10 percent tax credit available at the federal level. PG&E in California, for example, has a Self-Generation Incentive Program for microturbines. The Lotte New York Palace received $1.5 million from NYSERDA for its microturbines.

Jamison says microturbines are becoming more common in hotels. The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is saving about $120,000 a year by using four microturbines. Since installing the microturbines, the hotel has reduced its power consumption by 20 percent and emits 40 percent less CO2. The Lotte New York Palace, with its 12 microturbines, is saving more than $1 million a year. At the Lotte New York Palace, the microturbines are on the 18th floor.

Green Lodging News first reported on microturbines in hotels in 2007. Is your hotel using them? To what benefit? I would love to learn about your experiences with them. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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