Luxury experiential travel company andBeyond recently unveiled yet another initiative aimed at moving away from traditional energy sources at its 29 lodges and camps.
Capitalising on the latest available technology, the company has installed a state-of-the-art off-grid electrical micro grid at its andBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp. The first of its kind in Botswana and only the second on the African continent, it incorporates a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant and a Tesla Powerpack battery energy storage system (BESS).
“We believe that implementing the latest available solutions helps us to maintain the sustainable tourism measures that we have become known for, thus ensuring that the remarkable landscapes where our lodges are situated are preserved for future generations to enjoy,” says andBeyond CEO Joss Kent.
“Solar photovoltaic technology has proven itself to be a reliable, economic and effective way of reducing one’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels. With an aim of reducing the carbon emissions across our group by 8% by 2020, we are currently actively implementing energy-saving, environmentally-friendly systems such as these at our lodges in Botswana.”
The introduction of the solar power system at andBeyond Xaranna has allowed the lodge to decrease generator runtime from 24 to 5 hours per day. This reduction not only saves on the use of diesel but also decreases the generator services and parts required, as well as the impact of having the diesel delivered, including the emissions from both the delivery trucks and the generator itself. The Tesla Powerpack System was chosen because of the wide range of temperatures at which it can operate, as well as it’s cycling capacity when compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. With Xaranna’s solar power plant producing an average of 450 kWh of energy per day, the system can supply over 8% of the camp’s requirements using renewable energy while reducing its carbon footprint by 4 500 000 kg (9 920 000 lb) per year.
The solar power system was installed by New Southern Energy without the use of concrete and is designed so that it can be relocated or removed with no permanent impact to the land, a crucial element in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The installation at andBeyond Xaranna follows the addition of a solar energy system during the refurbishment of andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in 2015 and means that both lodges now have fully operational hybrid energy solutions installed. The completion of a similar system at another of andBeyond’s Okavango Delta Lodge, Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, is planned for mid-2018.
With andBeyond’s efforts to reduce energy consumption targeting those areas where the impact is the highest, solar hot water systems have also been installed at both Sandibe and Nxabega. Not only are these installations more energy efficient but they also reduce the wastage of water.
Continually looking for new and inventive ways of minimising the impact on the environment, andBeyond is also looking for solutions that would allow it to install water bottling plants similar to those found at its South African lodges in Botswana. While the challenge here lies in the high tannin content in the Okavango Delta water, the company is exploring the option of a micro filter process that uses reverse osmosis.
“We are constantly striving to find and implement new technologies that will allow us to keep delivering on our brand of luxury responsible tourism,” concludes Kent.