Top hotel switches on to Green Revolution
A luxury hotel on Anglesey has built its own £500,000 biomass plant to slash its energy bills and safeguard jobs.
The boiler at Tre-Ysgawen Hall Country House Hotel and Spa was switched on by Edwina Hart, Welsh Government Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.
Tre-Ysgawen Hall at Capel Coch, near Llangefni, is thought to be the first hotel in Wales to harness the power of biomass fuel for all its heating needs.
The 600kW renewable energy system, which is powered by wood chip, will completely cancel out the £90,000 a year oil bill of the four star hotel and will help safeguard its future as a key island employer of 80 people.
The Minister was there to celebrate the official launch of the new boiler which was also attended by local dignitaries and tourism representatives.
Mrs Hart said: “I am delighted to participate in today’s ceremony which marks a significant investment by the Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel management team in green renewable technology.
“This investment will secure the long term sustainable future of the hotel, ensure it remains highly competitive and also safeguard jobs.
“It is a particularly fitting investment as Anglesey has been designated an Enterprise Zone with a focus on energy and the environment and set to benefit from Energy Island project. Tre-Ysgawen is setting an example of how investment in low carbon technology can bring real economic benefits.”
Neil Rowlands, chief executive of Tre-Ysgawen Hall Hotel, is the man behind the brave business decision to invest in the cutting edge green technology.
Determined to do something to radically cut the hotel’s enormous £200,000 a year energy bills, he commissioned an on-site audit by energy experts Carbon Control Ltd who work with their clients to find ways of reducing energy consumption and increase sustainability. The boiler has been sourced and installed by Rural Energy.
Neil said: “It was becoming increasing painful to watch as the price of oil continued to rise all the time and it was essential to regain more control of the hotel’s energy costs.
“We have been spending £200,000 a year on LPG, oil and electricity and in business terms, that means I have to have a turnover of £800,000 a year just to pay the fuel bills. It was crucial to the future of the hotel that we did something now to address this.
“We are one of the island’s largest employers and while I recognise the boiler’s green credentials, I was also looking at it from the point of view of looking after the business and ensuring we can still be a worthwhile employer to the 80 people who have jobs with us. This is very important to me.”
The biomass boiler will cost the hotel £40,000 a year to run which is less than half of the £90,000 a year which Tre-Ysgawen was spending on oil. But due to the British Government’s renewable heat incentive, which is a payment for renewable energy generated by individuals and businesses, the running costs of the boiler will be paid for under the subsidy scheme for the next 20 years.
The cost of the boiler project will be made back by the hotel in less than six year’s time by cancelling out almost half of the hotel’s fuel bills – the £90,000 spent every year on oil.
He said: “I hope that Tre-Ysgawen is now recognised as a trail blazer within the hospitality industry for taking this big leap in green technology. But it was a difficult decision to take because I was very aware that my customers were not going to see the benefits of this large amount of money.
“It is not like spending it on the refurbishment of rooms or on new carpets where they can see a difference.”
Andrew Fletcher, managing director of Carbon Control Ltd, oversaw the year long biomass project at Tre-Ysgawen Hall making sure the most suitable boiler on the market was installed on time and on budget. He said: “In my opinion, Tre-Ysgawen is showing terrific leadership within their industry by seeing this project through to the end.
“What we are very excited about and keen to happen as a result of this project is for other big energy users in the area to be able to see this project working and see how it can work for them. We hope it will give other businesses a means of reassurance so they can look at investing in this type of greener technology with confidence.”
The boiler, made in Austria, has been installed within its own building at the back of the hotel. The fuel is tipped by the delivery vehicle into a large storage unit at the front of the structure. When the boiler needs fuel, it draws in wood chip from the storage compartment and burns it. The resulting energy is then transferred to the hotel and spa to provide their heating and hot water.
Paul Clark, sales and technical director for Rural Energy, said: “Biomass boilers are very sophisticated machines, much more so than regular fossil fuel boilers. The technology is needed to efficiently regulate the combustion of the wood chips because the fuel is natural and highly variable in size, shape and moisture content, unlike uniform fossil fuels such as oil and gas.
“But despite all the technology it is a surprisingly low maintenance installation which is necessary to let the business get on with its day job.
“The Tre-Ysgawen project illustrates to others that Biomass really does create a fantastic opportunity for businesses such as this and Rural Energy is very keen to work within the hospitality sector providing Biomass solutions.”
The large scale biomass project at Tre-Ysgawen, which requires 450 tonnes of wood chip a year, has given the company supplying the fuel for the boiler, a financially viable opportunity to set up a new depot on Anglesey with the creation of two full time jobs.
Edward Jones, Business Development and Sales Manager for Stobart Biomass Products Ltd, was born and raised in Anglesey and has set up the new hub on his family’s farm which is located next door to the hotel’s grounds.
He said: “Without our key client – Tre-Ysgawen Hall – it would be very difficult to justify the expense of setting up a hub. But without it, it would be very difficult to entice any biomass business on the island because a local supply of fuel is crucial to the success of any project.
“Stobart Biomass is very keen to invest more in Wales and we are already looking at ways of working with local farmers and foresters to help us produce the fuel locally. The fact there is a hub and a ready client here means it will hopefully give them the confidence to put in the infrastructure to diversify in this way.”
With Anglesey being off the gas grid, most businesses and residents are not hooked up to natural gas but are forced to use oil or liquefied petroleum gas which is very expensive and produces higher levels of carbon dioxide emissions.
Andrew Fletcher said: “Anything you can do to eliminate this is not only good economically but also better for the environment because you are reducing your carbon footprint.”
To contact Tre-Ysgawen Hall go to www.treysgawen-hall.co.uk or call 01248 750750.