Renewable energy could be eminently viable in tourism accommodation, Australian experience seems to show. It need not be expensive or inefficient, as is generally thought.
A study by the University of Queensland (UQ) shows that the performance and economics of renewable energy is indeed heartening. The survey covered 150 regional Queensland tourism operators and 350 tourists mostly from Queensland and South Australia.
Tourism operators and tourists were asked about their attitudes to renewable energy such as wind and solar power in tourist accommodation.
UQ PhD graduate Gordon Dalton, who conducted the survey, found 70 per cent of tourism operators were interested in adopting renewable energy although they were worried about setup costs, reliability and efficiency.
About 70 per cent of tourists said they would change their energy consumption habits such as turning off lights and turning down airconditioners while on holiday.
Most tourists, 90 per cent of whom were Australian, said they would even tolerate a blackout on holidays as a result of renewable energy failure.
Dr Dalton found 50 percent of tourists were willing to pay at least five percent more to stay at a hotel with renewable energy but the other half, were not willing to pay any more.
'Tourists are in favour of renewable energy, they want their hotels to have renewable energy, they're willing to accommodate its inconveniences and are willing to adapt to some extent,' Dr Dalton said.
'There needs to be a lot of marketing and a lot of tests to demonstrate that this technology is viable.'
He found most types of renewable energy installations near a hotel were visually acceptable, with the exception of some wind turbines.
Tourist operators thought that governments should be advertising and promoting renewable energy more and that government rebate schemes only applied to domestic applications.
He included three case studies where renewable energy was used in a large hotel, bed and breakfast and in an eco-lodge resort.
His analysis showed that wind turbine energy was more economical by a factor of 10 compared to solar energy with set up costs recouped in five years for wind and in 10 years for solar.
'Wind seems to be a political hotcake that no one really seems willing to address and as a result doesn't seem to be promoted,' he said.
'It's big in Europe, but micro generation wind, where a single turbine provides power for an individual unit, isn't being promoted in Australia whatsoever.