While environmental initiatives may seem standard in the upscale, boutique hospitality industry, there is plenty of room for tourism organizations to make strides to advance green lodging, especially in the area of solar power.
According to the Energy Policy and Sector Analysis in the Caribbean (2010 – 2011), the “Caribbean islands have the potential to lead the world to a new energy future.”
“Caribbean islands have the potential to lead the world to a new energy future.”
The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa is not only the first Westin hotel or resort in the world - but also the only major resort in the Caribbean - to install and utilize solar panels to replace its energy consumption throughout the resort.
The resort’s owner, Columbia Sussex Corporation, enlisted the expertise of Anthony Prall Jr.’s Caribbean Energy Store to design a system to facilitate its 317 guest rooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities and spa.
Prall states, “There are hotels and resorts utilizing solar power for specific areas, such as heating pools and water, bungalows or, if it is a small property, replacing nearly all energy use with solar. However, the Westin St. Maarten is unique in that it is a large resort and its ultimate goal is to use solar energy during daylight for most of its overall energy consumption.”
Phase One of the solar photovoltaic system has been installed on the resort’s roof and includes 480 Suntech solar panels, with 1,200 solar panels installed by 2014. The resort began taking advantage of the island’s abundance of sunshine in 2007 with the installation of solar panels to heat the water used in the property’s guest rooms.
Dan Szydlowski, Regional Director, states, “With sunshine nearly guaranteed year round, we saw only positive attributes to making this capital and environmental investment.
“Once the project is complete in 2014, the goal is to operate in strictly solar mode for six hours per day.”
Phase one of the solar system produces more than 3660 Kilowatt hours of electricity per hour. According to the Prall, the system will avoid 40 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 35,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions over the next thirty years. It will also save 4,875 tons of oil, otherwise needed for electricity production, the equivalent of planting 2,500 trees annually.
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