Aitken Spence Hotels’ first hotel property, Neptune Hotel, recently reopened as Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara and leveraging on innovative strategies in the area of renewable energy, the hotel recently broke new ground by being the first in the country to enter into a net metering agreement using solar photovoltaic as the renewable energy source.
The Government approved the concept of net metering in August 2009. In early 2010, LECO was the first to announce the new procedure.
Net metering is a special metering and billing agreement entered between utility companies and their individual customers which facilitates the connection of small renewable energy generating systems to the power grid.
Solar photovoltaic systems can be broadly connected either as an off-grid system (solar power used to charge batteries) or an on-grid system (solar power fed directly to the grid).
The system installed at Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara is a unique design having both features integrated into a single system. During the day, the power produced from the solar panels is used to charge the batteries as well as feed power to the grid.
This has been achieved by increasing the capacity of the solar panels so that excess power is generated, more than required to charge the batteries. Once the batteries are fully charged, excess generated power is fed to the grid via the net meter.
During the night, the charged batteries are used to power the hotel garden lighting. The annual savings from the system is 4,639 kWh, equivalent to a reduction in the hotel’s carbon footprint by 3.4 tonnes. In addition, the hotel also has a solar hot water system for pre-heating the water before it is sent to the heat exchanger which acts as a storage for hot water. This reduces the furnace oil consumed by the boiler. The hotel will be saving 1,417 litres of furnace oil annually thus mitigating its carbon footprint by 4.6 Tonnes.
The biogas plant uses kitchen garbage as the primary source for the production of biogas which is utilised in the herbal preparation unit of the Ayurveda resort.
“It is encouraging that Aitken Spence Hotels has taken the initiative in implementing the first net metering installation in the LECO distribution network with renewable generation. We hope that other private establishments will follow suit and thus reduce the carbon burden on the environment,” said Lanka Electricity Company (Pvt) Ltd. Head of Engineering Dr. Narendra De Silva.
By adopting net metering, Heritance Hotels further reaffirms their commitment towards practicing sustainable tourism.
“The installation of systems such as this helps break our dependency on fossil fuels, add to the diversification of our current energy portfolio and most importantly helps lessen the environmental footprint associated with electricity generation and consumption. We all have worked extremely hard in order to maintain our existing sustainability practices while constantly coming up with new and innovative ways of enhancing the edge we have on the sustainability front, and we are delighted to be the first hotel in Sri Lanka to enter into a net metering agreement with the Lanka Electricity Company,” said Aitken Spence Hotels Vice President, Engineering Rohitha Rajaratne.
Heritance Hotels and Resorts believes passionately in sustainable tourism and have been very active in engaging both guests and communities in promoting these ethics.
“All forms of tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economical impact on a country, we at Aitken Spence Hotels take all necessary measures to negate any detrimental impact a guest may have on the environment while holidaying with us,” said Aitken Spence Hotels Managing Director Malin Hapugoda.
The company’s premier resorts operate under Heritance Hotels and Resorts. Its latest Heritance property, Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara, commenced operation in July 2011. It has joined the award-winning Heritance Hotels and Resorts portfolio consisting of Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Tea Factory.