The Caribbean is known for its white sandy beaches and ample sunshine. And the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa is taking advantage of the multitude of sun and installing solar panels to help offset the resort’s energy consumption.
Although several small hotels and boutique resort properties have made steps towards sustainability with solar installations, this is the first time a major resort in the Caribbean is making a capital investment in solar energy. The resort, which has 317 guestrooms, hopes that by 2014, it can run for six hours each day on solar power.
The resort’s owner, Columbia Sussex Corporation, enlisted Anthony Prall Jr.’s Caribbean Energy Store to design a system to facilitate its guestrooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities, and spa. Phase one of the solar photovoltaic system has been installed on the resort’s roof and includes 480 Suntech solar panels. The resort plans to have 1,200 solar panels installed by 2014.
“With sunshine nearly guaranteed year round, we saw only positive attributes to making this capital and environmental investment,” said Regional Director Dan Szydlowski.
Phase one of the solar system produces more than 3660 Kilowatt hours of electricity per hour. According to the Prall, the system will avoid 40 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 35,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions over the next thirty years. It will also save 4,875 tons of oil, otherwise needed for electricity production, the equivalent of planting 2,500 trees annually.