An increasing number of hotels are investing in solar technology for the purpose of generating electricity and heating hot water. Cooper Hotels just announced that two of its hotels in Tennessee will be implementing solar thermal systems. The Hilton Asheville (N.C.) is about to open with a solar water heating system atop its roof, and the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Ore., will soon be using solar technology for both electricity generation and water heating. Solar thermal systems (for water heating) have become especially affordable lately thanks to available incentives.
The growth of renewable energy in lodging reflects an overall trend in the U.S. economy. According to the latest figures released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its "Electric Power Monthly" report, net U.S. electrical generation from renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) reached an all-time monthly high in May 2009. Combined, those sources accounted for 13 percent of total electrical generation.
More specifically, renewable sources generated 40,395,000 megawatt-hours (Mwh) of electricity in May 2009 (the latest month for which EIA has compiled and released data). That level is 7.7 percent higher than that produced in May 2008 (37,515,000 Mwh) and appears to be the highest monthly figure ever reported by EIA for renewably-generated electricity. Total net electrical generation from all sources, including renewables, fossil fuels, and nuclear, in May 2009 was 311,411,000 Mwh—a drop of 4.1 percent from the 324,589,000 Mwh generated in May 2008.
To learn about lodging establishments that have invested in renewable technology, go to Green Lodging News and search on phrases such as "solar thermal" and "wind turbine."