Shangri-La Bangkok Installs Largest Ever Hotel Solar Heating System

Solar water heating wins all round by providing piping hot showers for over 800 guests at Bangkok’s Shangri-La hotel – plus it costs less and cuts greenhouse gases too. By Jeremy Torr

Thierry Douin, general manager of the Shangri-La, is very proud of the new solar water heating system

Bangkok, 27 April 2011. Water heating systems are one of the most expensive energy consuming processes in any industry, especially in hotels, and even more so when it is in developing countries. This makes reducing dependence on traditional energy sources and maximising use of natural energy - such as the sun - a good idea.

One hotel, the Shangri-La in Bangkok, has not just looked at the idea and made noises – it has installed a brand new 938m2 rooftop solar water heating system. This makes it the largest solar heating system ever installed in a Thai hotel.

“The new solar water heating system will enable the hotel to heat 25 million litres of water a year,” says Thierry Douin, vice president and general manager of the Shangri-La Hotel. This will be enough hot water for 802 guestrooms when it is fully operational in mid 2011. “We are expecting to reduce hot water energy consumption, but as well to reduce expenditure on liquefied petroleum gas by up to 30 per cent, which equals savings of 2.7 million baht (nearly US$90,000) each year,” added Douin.

The huge panel array will heat 25 million litres of showering water every year

The solar heating installation has cost Shangri-La some 13 million baht (about US$433,000). By contributing to a clean and green environment, the solar water heating system will yield many advantages, says Drouin.

In terms of economic and financial savings, the solar system offers significant economies and at the same time allows the hotel to conserve non-renewable fuel and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The environment also benefits, as using clean energy to heat water instead of using a combustible source means fewer pollutants are released into the environment.

The hotel takes both visitors' and workers' health and safety very seriously, says Drouin

The system is a direct result of the hotel’s CSR initiatives in the areas of the environment. Others are in community; health and safety; supply chain management; and stakeholder relations.

The new solar heating initiative will reduce CO2 emissions by over 430 tonnes every year

In environmental sustainability, the hotel’s focus is primarily in five areas: climate change, ozone depletion, water use management, waste disposal management and indoor air quality.  The hotel practices a wide array of environmentally friendly measure, including fitting all of the guestrooms with water saving devices in taps and showers as well as using energy-saving lamps.

In fact the Shangri-La has been active in the sustainability area for some years. In 2000 it was listed as Thailand’s first certified ISO14001 hotel for international Environmental Management System Standard.  As part of its social commitment to maintain and improve the environment, it has also instigated annual street and river cleaning activities.

“Now, with the implementation of the solar water heating system, the hotel has put a stop to 435 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually,” says Douin. He adds it is a given fact that emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphates and nitrates have a direct result on human health, and that they are the main factors that lead to the greenhouse effect.

“It may look like a tiny step but hopefully, this tiny step will make a difference in the world,” adds Douin.

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Photos courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels