Florida's Pensacola Beach Gets First Solar-Powered Hotel

Feb. 15, 2024
The grid-tied solar array has 330 rooftop panels and is expected to save the hotel nearly $48,000 in annual energy costs and reduce its emissions by nearly half.

The Surf & Sand Hotel in Pensacola Beach, Florida, has commissioned a 330-panel rooftop solar array designed to offset nearly half of the beachfront hotel’s energy use.

The solar installation also should reduce its carbon footprint by half. It is the first solar-powered hotel on Pensacola Beach, according to a statement released by the hotel’s owner.

The array is grid tied, allowing the hotel to take advantage of Florida Power and Light’s net metering policies. The system does not include battery energy storage, so the hotel will use grid power overnight and during adverse weather conditions when the solar panels can’t meet demand.

It is expected that the solar system will produce 235 MWh per year, nearly half of the hotel’s typical consumption of 490 MWh, saving the hotel around $48,000 in annual energy costs.

With award-winning beaches and historic charm, Pensacola Beach, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is a top vacation destination.

The property, which has 100 rooms and is located across the street from the famed Pensacola Pier, is owned by Innisfree Hotels, one of the largest beachfront hotel owner-operators on the Gulf Coast.

“By transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, this project is reducing carbon emissions, contributing to improved air quality and demonstrating that Innisfree is a leader in sustainability,” said Bethanne Edwards, director of sustainability at Innisfree Hotels.

Innisfree owns or manages more than two dozen properties in Florida and the southeastern U.S. This is the first solar installation the company has completed, and Innisfree said in a statement that it represents a major milestone in achieving the company’s sustainability goals.

The company is evaluating similar projects for its other properties.

“The solar project helps us deliver on our triple bottom line commitment where success is determined by how well we protect the planet while serving people and communities,” said Edwards.

Sustainable hospitality

The hospitality industry is increasingly investing in sustainability initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and meet guest demands. While Innisfree has opted to invest in just solar at the Surf & Sand, other chains are adding energy storage and microgrid controls. 

Hilton and Marriott have both opted to install microgrids at select locations. For example, Hilton invested in a grid-tied microgrid that includes a solar carport and energy storage at its Hotel Marcel in Connecticut.

In Costa Rica, Marriott built a 250-kW solar-powered microgrid that includes battery storage and a backup generator at its Hacienda Belen property.

At New York’s JFK Airport, the former TWA terminal was transformed into a 512-room hotel that is powered by an off-grid microgrid.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...

Get the full report.

High Reliability Microgrids for an Uncertain Future

In uncertain times, there is a need for high reliability microgrids. Calculating reliability involves understanding the risks and consequences of outages. In this white paper,...