The urgent need to reduce environmental pollution and combat climate change is being recognised in the hospitality sector. Many businesses have picked up the mantle and are already making a positive impact, but as a significant consumer of energy, there is still much to be done.

The International Energy Agency projects that a third of global power generation will be met by renewable energy sources in 2025 – be they solar, wind, hydroelectric or biomass. While each operator’s geographical location is different and may not be conducive to every form of clean energy, many businesses can harness some of these sources of energy to decrease their impact on the environment. To give you some food for thought, we take a closer look at some of the more practical options available and the benefits they promise.

Solar Power
Solar energy is increasingly popular in the hospitality sector to generate electricity and heat water. Amid the promise of reduced energy bills, installing battery or storage devices is advisable as this prevents wastage during off-peak times. Any excess energy can then be sold back to your energy supplier, helping to offset installation costs, which, without a government grant, can be quite high.

Wind Energy
For businesses in remote or windy regions, wind turbines are a stable and effective option, but not altogether practical for most operators! Small wind turbines below 100 kilowatts can be installed for individual premises where space allows and can also be used in connection with photovoltaic systems to generate the amount of electricity your business needs. The Marriott Heathrow hotel was the first in the hotel group to be fitted with a hybrid wind turbine and solar panel system as part of their ongoing ‘Green Initiative’. The installation powers some of their external signage and is an integral part of their program to reduce their carbon footprint.

Switching Tariffs
A more practical solution for those who don’t want the upheaval of large installations, is to opt for a renewable energy tariff. At a time when we are all battling rising costs, this may not initially sound like an attractive option because renewable energy tariffs for gas supply can be a little more expensive than others. However, wind and solar are the cheapest ways to generate electricity in the UK and should therefore be less than, or the same as fossil fuel-based electricity tariffs. Groups such as Pizza Hut have described their move to renewable energy sources as one of the easiest and cost-efficient decisions a business can make in terms of sustainability, and have saved an estimated 190,400 tCO2e in emissions between 2012-2022.

Thinking outside the (fuse)box
Your source of renewable energy can become your biggest differentiator. The Falls Hotel & Spa in Co Clare, Ireland was the first to be completely powered by hydroelectric energy. The entire 140 room hotel and leisure centre are powered by a 220-kWh hydroelectric turbine. Hydropower is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy, although it isn’t the most sustainable energy source as it can impact water temperatures, fish migration and native plants when deployed on a large scale.

Alternatively, biomass energy, derived from organic materials, can reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% compared to fossil fuels. Hotels such as Soho House Group, Dumbleton Hall Hotel and Gwesty’r Emlyn Hotel in Wales are currently using biomass energy to supplement gas boilers or replace oil fired boilers. 

If you would like to learn more about how to transition to renewable energy solutions, the Sustainable Restaurant Association have launched a new guide, which is free to download from their website