National park and resort concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts says the solar photovoltaic system at the Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, Calif., has produced more than 10 million kWh and met the company’s goal of reducing purchased electricity by 30 percent.
The 1 MW system was completed in June 2008 and covers five acres within Furnace Creek Resort. Xanterra says its facility is the largest privately owned PV energy system in the US tourism industry.
The solar installation was specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of Death Valley. During the day, the system is reducing electricity usage of the entire property by up to 60 percent. The electricity feeds directly into the electric grid instead of batteries.
Xanterra took steps to ensure that construction of the solar PV system was as environmentally sound as possible, relocating more than 144 date palm trees to make room for the 5,740 solar panels. Although the trees are not indigenous to Death Valley – they were planted by the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the 1920s – Xanterra was committed to preserving as many trees as possible because of their historical significance and because the trees serve as habitat for area wildlife.
Xanterra, which fully owns the system and the energy it produces, contracted with SPG Solar of Novato, Calif., for the installation.
A sustainability study conducted in May 2012 of 46,000 US hotels by tech company Brighter Planet found budget hotels had greater energy efficiency than more expensive establishments, with upscale chain Marriott ranking 75th out of 75 chains. The study also discovered that newer hotels were less efficient, use more energy and use dirtier energy sources than their older counterparts.