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Implementing Alternative Sources of Energy

Info: 5460 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 12th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Environmental StudiesEnergyClimate Change

Chapter 1


1.0 Introduction

Hotels constitute a key element of the organized chain of activity in the travel and tourism industry, and occupy a crucial place in concerns over environmental protection related to tourism and travel. The hotel industry, because of the nature of its functions, characteristics, and services, consumes substantial quantities of energy, water, and non-durable products. It has been estimated that most environmental impacts created by the hotel industry can be attributed to site planning and facility management; excessive consumption of local and imported non-durable goods, energy, and water; and emissions into the air, water, and soil (APAT 2002; Mensah 2004; Trung and Kumar 2005).

1.1 Problem Statement

Integration of renewable energy sources into hotel operations is perceived as the most promising form of crisis mitigation. There are two types of energy: renewable which is infinite and non-renewable which will run out in the future. Alternative energy includes wood or biomass, wind energy, solar energy, fusion and hydropower. Non-renewable energy includes fossil fuels, coal, geothermal power and nuclear fission. Even if with many promising alternative energy sources, hoteliers remember that conservation is the key to efficient energy use, no matter what the source of the energy may be. Energy consumption in hotels is among the highest in the non-residential building sector in absolute values. Available specific information on the energy characteristics, thermal performance, energy losses, electric loads, and comfort conditions play significant role for the sustainable development of hotel’s systems. During the past years, there has been rising interest, there has been increasing interest, in the use of the concept of energy.

The use of renewable sources in energy production with the need to promote sustainable tourism, provide energy-based amenities for tourists, and ensure environmental protection, and it focuses on solar power, wind power, the power of running water and biomass, the power of biofuel for motor vehicles, and biothermal energy.

We are in an alarming situation in Mauritius whereby there is an increase in the arrival of tourist. The hotels sector has expand a lot with new hotels constructed. Moreover, due to that increase of tourist in hotel meaning that there is indirectly and directly an increase in the level of energy consumption. The increase in the energy consumed is having an impact upon the environment, hence hoteliers are now trying to find a solution to prevent environmental degradation. There is a need in using alternative source of energy in order to reduce their consumption and also to reduce their cost.

Aims & Objective of Study

The aim is to analyse the alternative source of energy use in hotels and how it can be implemented with the following objectives:

  • To analyse to which extent hotels are aware of alternative energy
  • Assessing the alternative source of energy of hotels
  • To assess how far the hotels are ready to implement alternative source of energy
  • Evaluate the barriers in implementing alternative energy in hotel



2.0 Introduction

In light of global climate change, issues of energy consumption in the international tourism industry have been receiving increased attention. In recent years, the tourism literature has increasingly recognized energy as an important issue. In particular, G ö ssling et al (2005, p. 418) state: ‘ the use of fossil fuels and related emissions of greenhouse gases is, from a global point of view, the most pressing environmental problem related to tourism’. The hotel sector has also been recognized as a key contributor of greenhouse gas emissions ( Warnken et al , 2004 ; Becken, 2005 ; Scott et al , 2007 ), research such as that conducted by Becken (2005) suggests that this has not typically been a major environmental concern for  tourism stakeholders. Moreover, a major concern among the hoteliers are to adapt new strategies in implementing alternative sources of energy which will help in reducing their consumption of the actual energy which is relatively high and costly. As such, Becken (2005) argues that energy has not been a major environmental concern for tourism stakeholders.

2.1 Consumption of energy by the Hotel Sector

Energy has long been considered a component of environmental sustainability in tourism. For example, the environmental sustainability principle of the International Ecotourism Standard specifies that ecotourism products should minimize energy consumption, maximize energy efficiency, and implement procedures to train staff and provide relevant information to guests  ( Green Globe, 2004 ). Hotels are among the most energy-intensive compo­nents of the tourism industry, representing essential tourist services and an important source of employment. As such In tourism’s early stage, most of the energy was used to provide lighting inside and around buildings, and to provide heating. Energy was also used in storing and preserving foodstuffs, preparing and serving food, and for sanitary purposes (for bathroom facilities, laundries). Recently, the consumption of energy used in air-conditioning or for the needs of various auxiliary facilities (swimming pools, saunas, lounges) has grown considerably. About one third of all energy consumed is used in guest rooms (30 percent of total consumption of electricity, 36 per cent of total energy used in heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, and 34 per cent of total water consumption). In this situation Energy is a key precondition to tourism processes. At a final-product level, electrical energy and heat power are the forms of energy most commonly used, while mechanical energy and solar and wind power are used substantially less.

2.2 Energy sources

All other forms of energy belonging to the second group are nonrenewable: fossil fuel (coal, crude oil and natural gas), nuclear power, the Earth’s internal heat energy released on its surface (hot springs), the Earth’s internal heat energy that is renewed in its interior through the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium, and light atoms that are needed for fusion to take place. These nonrenewable forms are finite energy sources, and their duration depends upon the intensity with which they are exploited. Coal is the primary energy source of fossil fuels, and its combustion releases great quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. From an ecological viewpoint, this represents the pivotal problem of using fossil fuels, because CO2 and other emissions impact on the environment and pollute the atmosphere through greenhouse gasses.

At the same time, the era of cheap fossil fuel has come to an end, and newly awoken concerns about fossil fuel security have further made dependency on them less desirable. In addition, the mean annual temperatures are predicted to rise in the order of 1.20-7.07â—¦C between 2070 and 2099, further exacerbating the problem (Mimura et al. 2007). The prevalence of fossil-fuel generated power and the (still) marginal utilisation of renewable energy resources translate into significant emissions of particulates, nitrogen and sulphur oxides and other air pollutants, both locally and globally. Secondary pollution in the form of acid rain causes the acidification of lakes and soils, with negative effects on flora and fauna, human health and man-made structures and products. The decades of cheap fossil fuel did little to help promote the technology and subsequently it was not until the late 1990s that renewable International Journal of Sustainable Energy 95 energy gained new momentum in the energy agendas of local governments and international organisations alike. The four principal strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accommodations include: reducing overall energy use, improving energy effi ciency, increasing the use of alternative energy sources and offsetting emissions through the development of renewable energy projects or the planting of trees to act as carbon sinks ( Ö n ü t and Soner, 2006 ; Becken and Hay, 2007 ; Dalton et al , 2007 ; Scott et al , 2007 ;UNWTO, 2007a ).

2.3 Alternative sources of energy

2.3.1 A solar thermal collector

A solar thermal collector is a solar collector considered to bring together heat by absorbing sunlight. The word is useful to solar hot water panels, but can also be used to denote more difficult installations like solar parabolic, solar trough and solar towers or easier installations such as solar air heat. The more multifaceted collectors are normally used in solar power plants where solar heat is used to generate electricity by heating water to fabricate steam which drives a turbine connected to an electrical generator. The simpler collectors are typically used for supplemental room heating in residential and commercial buildings. A collector is a tool for converting the energy in solar radiation into a more functional or storable form. The energy in sunlight is in the form of electromagnetic radiation from the infrared (long) to the ultraviolet (short) wavelengths. The solar power striking the Earth’s surface depends on weather conditions, as well as location and direction of the surface, but in general it averages about 1,000 watts per square meter under lucid skies with the surface straight perpendicular to the sun’s rays. About Parabolic Trough Solar

Trough solar systems use parabolic rounded trough shaped reflectors center the sun’s power onto a receiver pipe running at the focus of the reflector. Because of their parabolic shape, troughs can focus the sun at 30-60 times its usual intensity on the receiver pipe. The intense energy heats a heat transfer fluid (HTF), typically oil, flowing through the pipe. This fluid is then used to produce steam which powers a turbine that drives an electric generator. The collectors are united on and east-west axis and the trough is rotated to follow the sun to make best use of the suns energy input to the receiver tube.  Heat transfer fluid (usually oil) runs through the tube to absorb the concentrated sunlight. This rises the temperature of the fluid to some 400°C. The heat transfer fluid is then used to heat steam in a normal turbine generator.

2.3.2 Biogas

Biogas can bring a spotless, effortlessly controlled source of alternative energy from organic waste materials for a small labour input, replacing firewoood or fossil fuels (which are becoming more expensive as supply falls behind demand). During the conversion process pathogen levels are diminished and plant nutrients made more willingly available, so better crops can be grown while accessible resources are preserved.

Since small scale units can be moderately simple to build and function biogas should be used openly if possible (for cooking, heating, lighting and absorption refrigeration), since both electricity generation and density of gas (for storage or use in vehicles)use large amounts of energy for a small output of functional energy. This idea is suited to “distributed” systems where waste is treated close to the source, and mud is also reused locally,to reduce transport and primary capital cost compared to a “centralised” system. As the distributed system will need a sustain network, biogas contributes to the “triple bottom line”; benefiting the environment, reducing costs and contributing to the social organization.

This kind of biogas consists mainly methane and carbon dioxide. Other types of gas generated by use of biomass are wood gas, which is formed by gasification of wood or biomass. This type of gas consists mainly of nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide, with little amounts of methane.

Biogas may be used as a low-cost fuel in the hotel industry for any heating function, such as cooking. It may also be used in present waste management amenities where it can be used to run any type of heat engine, to produce either mechanical or electrical power. Biogas can be compacted, like natural gas, and used to power motor vehicles and in the UK for example is estimated to have the potential to replace around 17% of vehicle fuel.  Biogas is a renewable fuel, so it qualifies for renewable energy subsidies in a few parts of the world.

2.3.3 Biomass

Biomass, a renewable energy source, is organic material from living, or freshly living organisms such as wood, waste, hydrogen gas, and alcohol fuels. The biomass- energy- materials technology (Pinatti, 1999)—better known by its BEM acronym—uses acid pre-hydrolysis in a vacuum reactor in order to separate municipal solid wastes into two fractions. Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity or generate heat. In this way, organic biomass can be integrated, as plants can also engender electricity while still alive. The most conservative way in which biomass is used however, still relies on direct incineration. However, it is possible to use biogas tapped from existing dumps and resulting in nil fuel costs, and either select or compatibilize technologies for upgrading the use of future municipal solid wastes, also with negative fuel costs, or ‘‘opportunity cost of waste function” Vollebergh (1997), based on the amount of garbage that will not disposed in dumps. Forest organic residues for example (such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps), yard clippings, wood chips and rubbish are often used for. Biomass also includes plant or animal matter used for production of chemicals. Biomass may include recyclable wastes that can be use to burn as fuel. However, it excludes such organic materials as fossil fuels, which have been altered by geological processes into substances like petroleum..

2.3.4 Flat plate collectors

Flat plate collectors, developed by Hottel and Whillier in the 1950s, are the most common type known still now. They consist of (1) a dark flat-plate absorber of solar power, (2) a transparent cover that allows solar energy to pass through but reduces heat losses, (3) a heat-transport fluid (air, antifreeze or water) to remove heat from the absorber, and (4) a heat insulating backing. It contain of a slight absorber sheet (of thermally stable polymers, aluminum, steel or copper, to which a black or selective coating is applied) often backed by a grid or coil of fluid tubing placed in an insulated casing with a glass or polycarbonate cover. Most air heat fabricates and some water heat manufacturers have a completely swamped absorber consisting of two sheets of metal which the fluid passes through. The heat exchange part is greater than they may be slightly more efficient than usual absorbers.

2.3.5 Hydro

Using water force as a source of energy is not new method. Some countries, such as Canada, are dependent upon on hydro power. Clearly, the availability is restricted to specific region. And to make competent use of hydro power, the scale must be enough. While the contribution of hydro is important, it is not expected to belong to the main flow in terms of aggressive growth of green energy on a global basis (Halldo´rsson and Stenzel, 2001).

2.3.5 Geothermal

Earth heat source on the 9000 degrees Farenheit inner earth hotness and steadily reduces in temperature closer to the surfaces, but the temperature close to the surface vary greatly. Rainwater that sips in deeper parts of the earth gets hot and is known as geothermal source. In several parts of the world this water finds its means back to the surface via cracks and faults, such as geysers (i.e. in Iceland) and boiling springs. As with solar energy, the matter is how to tap that virtually unlimited spring of green energy. In most cases the trick is to bore to find and get access to the geothermal basis. The hot water can then be used both straight and in geothermal power plants, which consists of three varieties. Steam can directly be used to produce electricity with a dry steam generator. Water among 300-700 degrees Farenheit can be used in a Flash Power Plant, where hot water is flashed into vapor, Water with a warmth as low as 220 degrees Farenheit can be used in a Binary Power Plant, where the hot water in some way produces steam from a fluid with a lower boiling peak using warmth exchangers. The used water is fed back into the basis for reheating. It is renewable in a sense, as the obtainable heat capacity has its limits.

Currently, the universal capacity of geothermal power plants is over 9000MW. The energy cost of “easy access” geothermal energy power plants is similar to wind energy. An MIT study showed that it is possible to increase the capability in the US alone to at least 100,000 MW, requiring a speculation of up to US$1 billion. It is analogous to drilling for oil; the more you want, the more hard (expensive) it is to find the sources. Clearly, geothermal energy can become a major provider to the world’s energy needs on the long term. Geothermal power plants can regulate the output to the required requests, which is a important advantage and makes them very suitable for “base load power” (the amount of energy that is “always” desired).

2.3.6 Tidal Energy

If there is one thing we can safely forecast and be sure of on this planet, it is the coming and disappearing of the tide. While the energy capacity is dependable, converting it into electrical power is not simple. One option is to construct a “tidal barrage” (contrast to hydro lakes) which are not only complex but also cause radical changes to the currents in the estuary that could have enormous effects on the ecosystem. Nonetheless, tidal barrages have a enormous potential, worthwhile further examination. Another option is to use offshore turbines that work analogous to wind parks, but underwater and using the tides as a basis, This technology brings no environmental issues, but as it is in an early stage, the cost is not yet aggressive (like wind energy in the premature days).

2.4 Energy Audit

To determine energy performance of a building, both constructional elements and energy production and consumption systems need to be evaluated. Depending on the purpose of the building aforementioned elements and systems have different contribution and a various methodology is needed for precise energy performance calculation. Energy audit is an analysis of thermal performance and energy systems of building with the purpose to determent its energy efficiency or non-efficiency. Energy audit also helps getting new conclusions and suggestions on how to increase the energy efficiency. Main goal of energy audit is to access and process collected data, and to get as much accurate present energy performance of building, concerning construction characteristics in terms of thermal protection, quality and efficiency of heating, ventilation and cooling systems, quality and efficiency of lighting and household  appliances and building management. .  For example Large-scale tidal energy production has been planned for Passamaquoddy Bay straddling New Brunswick and Maine, and the Bay of Fundy as at least the 1930s.

Even the late American President John F. Kennedy, a winner of a large-scale barragestyle tidal power plan at ‘Quoddy, envisioned a “fossil-fuel-free energy future” on the Atlantic seaboard. Newer tidal current technologies offer much more energy generation possibility, and much less environmental trouble, than the impoundment schemes superior in earlier plans.

2.5 Barriers to implement alternative sources of energy

The need for using alternate sources for energy has been progressively rising as the environment is getting worse due to human utilization. For those people who wish to make dissimilarity in their lifestyles, or want to help find better energy sources for everybody, there are government allocations that will provide the financial support to do rising energy costs are finally starting to force global leaders to research alternatives and provide the funding to make changes.

2.5.1 Solar water heating systems (SWHS)

Problems such as malfunctioning pumps, leakage from tanks etc. were experienced and maintenance and repairing facilities may not be to the required level. However, individual users in direct contact with manufacturing companies were generally satisfied. But this was true for only new systems. An encouraging response came from the potential users; 90% in the cities were willing to buy if it saved them energy. But current high prices of the system were a deterrent to them. Although solar water heating systems are simple in construction, responses indicated that minor faults could lead to serious problems, especially if not detected early. It was found that many systems did not perform as expected due to reasons such as low level of awareness, technical problems and lack of maintenance. It was also revealed that due to unsatisfactory performance, credibility of SWHS was low and there was an urgent need to restore the confidence of both existing and potential users. SWHS are still not perceived as environmentally attractive and potentially economical means of providing hot water to targeted users. Therefore, serious efforts and corrective measures both from industry and government are needed for a sustained growth of SWHS market. The key stakeholders (users, manufacturers and experts) indicated that the economic / financial barriers are the most important barriers for SWHS industry. The SWHS were considered high priced compared to conventional water heating systems and electricity made it further unattractive for the “low bill” electricity consumers. A lack of credit facilities was another obstacle in this category. Awareness / information barriers were ranked second with stakeholder indicating these as most important. Presence of SWHS industry can hardly be noticed by consumers. Industry on the other hand offers very limited choices due to a lack of significant market.

Technical barriers were ranked third with stakeholders indicating these as most important. However, some experts and users were of the opinion that technical barrier would have been ranked first if the SWHS were used more widely. SWHS manufacturers on the other hand argued that the lack of knowledge about the system design and operation, and a lack of maintenance were the root cause of the problem. The quality of the product has improved in the last three years.

2.5.2 Recommended actions to remove SWHS barriers

The Following measures were recommended by the stakeholders to remove the barriers.

Information and awareness

Development of effective public awareness and promotion programs that are prepared based on market surveys and studies. It was proposed that the programs should concentrate on use of media especially TV and newspapers. The concept, the benefits and the required operating conditions for SWHS should be made clear to end-users through these media strategies.

Promotion of SWHS could also be done through participation in various exhibitions held in syndicates, hotels, clubs etc. The demonstration systems can be set-up in places like city councils, clubs, big factories, conference halls, and stadiums etc. where the impact can be far reaching.

Printed materials (such as leaflets, brochures) containing information on systems, selection criteria, maintenance requirements, and information about suppliers and their after sales services needs to be made available to the consumers.

ther modes for awareness building could include seminars and presentation to targetted users in schools, universities and clubs, and awareness among students by setting up of laboratories in these places.

Economic and financial

– Financial support from the governmental, private sectors and donor agencies to the SWHS needs to be put in place. Availability of credit facilities with low interest rates and reduction in SWHS prices to make it competitive with other alternatives is equally important.

– Encouraging local manufacture of SWHS by reducing taxes and customs duties on solar water heating system components.

– Financial and technical support to research and development activities for product improvement should also be provided


– Current manufacturing standards and specifications should be revised to include quality control and assurance components and installation requirements.

– SWHS and their spare parts could be made available in shops and markets.  This should be accompanied with availability of maintenance centres within easy reach.

– A program or mechanism to address the problem of the systems already installed in the new cities needs to be prepared and implemented. Relevant government authorities, manufacturers and dealers of SWHS need to co-operate in this programme. The users of the system need to be made aware o f the maintenance requirements of the SWHS through the program.

– Formulation and enforcement of appropriate quality checks at the factory level, product quality and performance guarantee and mechanism for their enforceability , and setting up maintenance cum marketing centres for SWHS are other measures to increase their penetration.


– A federation, union or society, which can bring representatives of users, companies, financing sources, policy makers and researches on one platform can be very useful to co-ordinate efforts in this area.

2.5.3 PV (photo voltaic) systems for electrification

There was a consensus that economic and financial barriers are the most important barriers and should be addressed first. This was followed by policy barriers, indicating need for a governmental mechanism to promote PV technology (Ahmad and Shenawy, 2006). Market barriers were considered next in importance, indicating small size of the market and limited access to international market. Private sector involvement was limited due to small size of the market. Some PV manufacturers even suggested the need for obligatory laws for rural electrification using PVs. While experts and users considered technical problems and availability of maintenance as an important barrier, PV manufacturers did not consider this as a barrier. Important barriers within these categories were as follows:

– Lack of information

– The awareness on the applications of solar PV systems is very low.

High dissemination costs

– The target group for solar electrification lives in dispersed rural dwellings, and proportion of wealthy households is also low in these areas. Dwellings are far apart, and therefore the transaction costs for commercial dissemination, installation and after-sales services are very high. These costs are estimated to be about 30% of the total costs of PV systems.

Unfavorable tariff system

– The tariff charged by utilities does not reflect the real cost of rural electrification. Tariffs for electricity are identical in rural and urban areas, although the cost of supplying electricity is much higher in the countryside. On the other hand, consumers with low consumption of electricity pay lower tariffs. This makes PV system uncompetitive with the grid electricity. PV system is also not able to offer the range of services that a grid can offer, making it further uncompetitive. The electricity tariffs do not include external costs (environmental costs) due to use of fossil fuels in electricity generation. If these costs are considered in tariff setting, PV systems could be competitive with traditional electricity sources.

Taxes and duties

As in many other developing countries, PV system is considered a luxury product and charged very high import duty. Sometimes, tax exemptions may be available for equipment imports for a public or NGO project. But this inhibits commercialization. Further, the components that are produced locally (such as charge regulators, and batteries), attract high duties to protect the market for local manufacturers. This can cause problems if technology with the local manufacturer is not reliable. Import of equipment and materials is also a problem due to foreign exchange constraints. Actions to overcome the PV electrification barriers

  • The solar PV systems still have opportunities and potential for contribution to the rural development programs. These include the following:
  • Solar radiation is high in Tropical Island, making solar PV system operation quite reliable
  • and attractive.
  • Technical and technological experiences are available. The actions to overcome the barriers include the following;
  • Awareness campaigns need to be launched on regular basis to bring out the potential merits of PV systems and applications.
  • Financial schemes need to be designed to support buyers.
  • Manufacturers, suppliers, and agents should have their representatives and centres near the consumers.
  • Since the PV programme is in initial stage, government supported market incentives needs to be designed to encourage commercial development and deployment.
  • PV rural electrification projects can be integrated with other development programs.
  • Integration of various PV rural electrification projects can help sharing of experiences in barrier removal.

2.5.4 Large Biogas Plants (LBP)

The barriers identified in the case of LBP are:

Information and awareness barriers

– A lack of awareness on LBP‟s positive economic and environmental impacts

– Absence of governmental support for development, awareness and dissemination of the technology, necessary in the early stages of such programs.

Institutional barriers

– Lack of co-operation and communication between the involved institutions, organisations and other stakeholders.

– Absence of NGOs role

Economic and financial barriers

– Competing petroleum products and electricity are subsidized and easily available.

– High capital costs of LB P compared to other organic waste treatment systems.

– There is no economic evaluation for the positive environmental impact of the LBP.

– Unavailability of land within the targeted sites.

– Policy barriers

– A lack of application of environmental laws. Moreover, due to the high revenue generated by the states upon energy provided by the state’s electricity central, it is very difficult to implement alternative or renewable energy. Actions to overcome the LBP barriers

Since the LBP programme is in initial stages, most of the action needed relates to formulation of a proper plan and setting up implementing agencies, and ensuring co- operation between various agencies involved in the programme. The actions may include;

– Awareness programmes bringing out benefits of LBP as a source of clean energy and provider of environmental benefits through waste treatment.

– Reforming energy pricing policy to encourage and make RETs competitive with petroleum fuels and electricity.

– Setting up financing mechanisms to provide financing at reasonable rates of interest.

– Carrying out market potential study.

– Setting up a coordinating committee for planning and implementing the national action plan as suggested above for LBP.

– Strengthening the co-operation between the concerned ministries, institutions and organisations involved in the programme.

– Encouraging NGOs role in promoting LBP technology.

2.6 Direct and Indirect Impacts

Social and environmental impacts of SWHS

Energy saved by renewable energy technologies was estimated to be about 65%.  Estimated annual reduction in CO2 emissions is 190 thousand tons. Since the manufacturing is de- centralised and relatively labour intensive (at present, compared to alternatives; oil and electric heating), it

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