Travel industry invests in wind, solar

Source: E&E • Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More and more travel companies are pivoting toward wind and solar power as a way to cut costs in the long term.

The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is joining the trend by installing 40-foot wind turbines on its high-rise roof. Through the installation, the Florida resort plans to generate 5 to 10 percent of its power.

“We started talking about it four years ago,” said Andreas Ioannou, general manager of the resort. “At the time, we were doing the basic things — recycling paper and plastic, using compact fluorescent bulbs — but then we thought about wind turbines and said: Let’s try it.”

Construction of the six turbines, billed at about $500,000, is expected to start in September and be completed later this year. The turbines are expected to generate 192,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

The resort opted for the wind power investment as part of an environmental commitment that helped it secure a Florida Green Lodging designation from the state Department of Environmental Protection in 2008.

“Our developer had a strong interest in clean energy, and we wanted to be in the forefront in terms of sustainability,” Ioannou said.

In October, Alaska Airlines constructed solar panels on the roof of its Nome, Alaska, terminal and installed a 30-foot wind turbine nearby. The airline expects to generate both $5,000 in annual savings and 15,000 kilowatt-hours — about 6 percent of the power the terminal needs.

Hertz Corp. is also planning to install solar panels at Newark and John F. Kennedy airports in the New York City area. The company expects the installations to pay for themselves within two to three years.

Marie Schnitzer, vice president of consulting services for AWS Truepower LLC, said the trend is becoming an increasingly realistic one for organizations to adopt.

“It’s getting to be less about early adopters and becoming more achievable for a broader group of companies,” she said. “There’s a growing trend of Americans looking for companies that are committed to sustainable practices” (Rob Lovitt, NBC News, July 21). — HP