Mumbai: The heart of Gurgaon is home to the 202-room Oberoi and 136-room Trident hotels. And for power, they look to the sunny skies. Well, literally.
The Oberoi chain, which also owns the Trident, has set up a 7.5MW-solar farm, spread over 25 acres, in nearby Balasar in Haryana to meet the energy requirements of the two properties.
Oberoi is not the only one to set up its own green energy facility to light up its suites and spas. Down south, ITC Grand Chola in Chennai and ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru are completely run on wind power.
The owner, the cigarette-to-chocolate maker ITC, has installed windmills in Kundadam, Tamil Nadu, and in Sindigiri & Manikere — both in Karnataka — to power the two upscale properties.
Hotels are increasingly switching to clean energy as they look to move away from thermal power and pare electricity costs. The green initiative is also helping hotels reduce their carbon emissions even as guests prefer to check into environmentally friendly rooms. Fuel is one of the highest expenses for a hotel, comprising 8-10% of its revenue.
Accor, which owns Novotel and Ibis brands, is using biogas (converting kitchen waste into gas, which is used to run the burner) at two of its hotels. It plans to install the biogas technology at other properties in the future. Shifting to power alternatives seems more feasible at a time when prices of solar panels, batteries and other technologies are dropping as the methods become more widespread and electricity tariffs soar. “A solar farm over its useful life will bring down the cost of power,” said an Oberoi spokeswoman. At ITC, more than half (53%) of its total electrical energy demand is met from “captive renewable energy sources”, as they are called.
Historically, captive power plants were set up by manufacturing companies in the cement, steel and aluminium sectors to cater to in-house requirements. And if there was surplus power, it was sold to third parties. The services sector, generally, has been dependent on electricity utility companies.
While some hotels are ramping up their captive renewable energy-generation efforts (energy conservation rules mandate hotels to install solar panels on their roofs for heating water), others are increasingly sourcing renewable energy from third parties. The Westin Mumbai is entirely run on wind energy procured from a third party, and so is JW Marriott in Bengaluru. The move is significant in the hospitality industry as guests check with the “front of the house associates about sustainability practices and its contribution to daily operations”, according to Arvind Dhiman, director (engineering) at JW Marriott, Bengaluru.
At Accor’s Novotel and Ibis hotels in Chennai, the carbon footprint has halved to 17kg per available room and 8kg per available room in the first quarter of 2019 from 34 and 16 in the first quarter of 2018, according to Darashbir Singh, director (engineering services) of the European chain. Singh also said that the energy costs at the two properties too have reduced 17% to Rs 41 lakh in March 2019 from Rs 50 lakh in March 2018.