Whitbread targets 30 per cent increase on energy efficiency

Premier Inn Glastonbury

Premier Inn Glastonbury

Whitbread PLC, the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant group is extending its use of Combined Heat & Power (CHP) systems across its property portfolio.

ITP member Whitbread operates market-leading businesses in budget hotels, restaurants and coffee shops including Premier Inn, Costa, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.

Employing over 40,000 people globally and serving more than 22 million customers every month in over 2,000 outlets across the UK, Whitbread has recently outlined five-year growth targets to 2018, including increasing the number of Premier Inn UK rooms to at least 75,000.

Whitbread is continuing its commitment to increasing the industry’s collective knowledge about how CHP technology works in a wide variety of buildings, and in tandem with other carbon reducing measures is proving invaluable.

Earlier this year Green Hotelier reported how Whitbread was the first UK company to be awarded by the Carbon Trust for its work in waste, water and carbon. Senior staff – led by Property Supply Chain Manager Mitesh Panikker – have been working for several years to fine tune the role CHP plays in the group’s overall carbon reduction strategy. The company is committed to making all its buildings 30 per cent more energy efficient, and has a broadly based research programme in place to help achieve that goal.

As well as working with Baxi Commercial Division to investigate the continued roll-out of CHP, the company is researching building fabric solutions such as solar shading on south-facing facades to reduce the potential for overheating and to improve insulation. Whitbread opened a flagship ‘green’ hotel in Burgess Hill to trial a wide range of low carbon techniques such as grey water recycling, natural insulation, heat recovery ventilation, LED lighting and ground source heat pumps.

Panikker said, “We continue to review all viable sustainable options. It is important that we work with a robust supply chain to help drive innovation and access advanced technical expertise. We need our solutions to be viable throughout the operational life of a hotel and so our partnership with Baxi is crucial to us.”

As well as continuing adoption of CHP, Whitbread asked Baxi to carry out a full survey of the heating and hot water arrangements across its 675 hotels. The two organisations are collaborating on a ground-breaking trial of fuel cell CHP technology which we reported here.

Further information: The two-year trial is seen as a vital step towards the wider adoption of fuel cells in the UK commercial heating industry. It is also the first UK-based trial under the European Union’s Ene.field scheme, which is contributing 40% of the costs. Baxi and Whitbread are jointly funding the balance.

The Gamma Premio fuel cell, built in Germany at the headquarters of Baxi Innotech, is one of the first two appliances to be trialled under the Ene.field programme, which will eventually monitor 1,000 installations across the whole of Europe. The unit was installed in Whitbread’s Glastonbury Premier Inn, which opened in January 2013. It has high occupancy throughout the year so was seen as offering ideal trial conditions of high hot water demand – particularly in the morning and evening – amounting to around 3,000 litres per day.

The fuel cell works by extracting hydrogen from the natural gas supply and converting it into water, heat and steam all of which can be used to produce heat and electricity in a process that is almost 96% efficient and reduces the amount of fossil fuel needed to power the heating plant.

At Glastonbury the Baxi unit was installed between the cold mains supply and two existing Andrews Maxxflo condensing water heaters together with two buffer vessels. This arrangement means the fuel cell will provide approximately 20% of the total hot water demand of this busy hotel – around 700 litres per day. The system has been configured to allow the fuel cell to run 24 hours a day, which will maximise its efficiency. It has its own 300-litre storage cylinder, which is heated first, before it moves on to supply the main system’s 500-litre pre-heat cylinder at 60degC.

The ‘free’ electricity produced is used within the plant room to run pumps and other ancillary units further reducing the carbon footprint of the building. Pre-commissioning analysis of the hotel and its hot water usage patterns, plus regularly updated operating data , have led Baxi and Whitbread’s energy team to predict overall savings of £16,890 over a ten year operating period with CO2 emissions likely to be reduced by 5.8 tonnes per annum. Heat meters have been installed on the mains and water supply and a gas meter is also continually recording the level of fuel consumption.

The electricity generation is also being recorded and contributes to the carbon reduction results. The metering enables engineers to make very accurate recordings and also analyse parasitic losses in the secondary return so they can build up a more comprehensive picture of the overall performance. “We envisage a promising future for this technology,” said Panikker “The results so far are very encouraging. This trial will allow us to make informed decisions based on our own experience in a fully operational hotel, which is so much more meaningful than lab-based testing. “CHP supplied by Baxi Commercial is already playing a part in our low carbon energy strategy and we are hopeful that fuel cell powered units will have a key role in the future,” he added. “We really value our close working relationship with Baxi as it allows us to develop a deeper understanding of emerging technologies and their potential.”

Baxi Commercial’s business development manager Neville Small added that site-based trials also allowed the company’s engineers to iron out any practical, operational issues. “We are extremely grateful to Whitbread for allowing us such open access to their premises. This means we can closely monitor the equipment and fine tune its performance to suit actual demand,” he said. “The future for fuel cells is bright and we are delighted to be at the forefront of this important technological advance.”

As well as fuel cell CHP at Glastonbury hotel, Whitbread is including CHP in all of its new hotels including 5.5kW Dachs units plus the newly available Dachs Pro 20kW unit deployed in Premier Inn’s new compact hotel format, ‘hub by Premier Inn’, on St Martin’s Lane, in the heart of London’s West End. Mitesh and his team have approached the projects from an integrated design standpoint as they want to get the best overall solution for each hotel. This means they seek to marry low carbon technologies with conventional gas-fired heating equipment to get the best out of both.

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