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The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa is the first Westin in the world to install and utilize solar panels to replace its energy consumption throughout the resort. Anthony Prall Jr.’s Caribbean Energy Store was hired to design a solar panel system to provide most of the power for the resort’s 317 guestrooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities and spa.
“There are hotels and resorts utilizing solar power for specific areas, such as heating pools and water, bungalows or, if it is a small property, replacing nearly all energy use with solar,” said Prall. “However, the Westin St. Maarten is unique in that it is a large resort and its ultimate goal is to use solar energy for most of its overall fuel consumption.”
Phase One of the solar photovoltaic system has been installed on the resort’s roof and includes 480 Suntech solar panels, with 1,200 solar panels installed by 2014. The resort began taking advantage of the island’s abundance of sunshine in 2007, with the installation of solar panels to heat the water used in the property’s guestrooms. Once the project is complete in 2014, the goal is to operate in strictly solar mode for six hours per day.
Phase One of the system will produce more than 3,660 kilowatt hours of electricity per hour. According to Prall, the system will negate 40 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 35,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions over the next thirty years. It will also save 4,875 tons of oil, otherwise needed for electricity production — the equivalent of planting 2,500 trees annually.