Crowne Plaza Alice Springs

The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs (CPAS) solar array was the largest building mounted solar generation system in the southern hemisphere when commissioned in 2009. Executing this ground-breaking project challenged and extended the capacity of the Australian solar energy industry at each stage of its development.

Installing the 305kW system as a retrofit involved the development of an innovative dispersed system configuration, which located the system across 13 different roof locations and 5 different electrical marshalling points across multiple hotel buildings. The project involved the installation of 1,326 high efficiency Sunpower monocrystalline solar panels and 52 SMA SMC 6000 grid connect inverters. Despite this distributed layout, the solar system is supported by a single integrated data and communications system that reports to an online database. This data informs various applications and processes around the hotel complex including an in-room information (TV) channel, an information kiosk for guests in the hotel foyer, and remotely accessible load and performance monitoring systems. Achieving this outcome necessitated the incorporation of wireless, Ethernet, RS485 and field bus protocols within what is understood to be a first of its kind integrated communications system.

CAT Projects managed a national tender process to select the most appropriate solar module supplier for this project, achieving a quality outcome and significant cost savings for the client. CAT Projects oversaw the work of seven local and national contractors, to deliver the project on time and to budget, for a launch in February 2009. The photovoltaic installation is an important element of a wide ranging program of water, electricity and gas efficiency measures being implemented by the hotel’s owners.

This project has lead to a deep understanding of the importance of effective guest engagement strategies for energy management within hotels. A key outcome of this project was the development of a Sustainability Corner and Solar TV channel within the hotel providing live data feeds on the system performance and other energy efficiency actions within hotel.

Effective procurement within this project saw a reduction in cost of over 15% ($450,000) from the originally quoted prices by different suppliers to the final system cost. Project management fees to achieve this cost reduction were only $75,000.

Additional to the above, an extensive energy efficiency program was undertaken by CAT Projects concurrently with the installation of the PV system to maximise the benefits of the renewable energy to Crowne Plaza. This program as well as the PV system installation saw the following reductions achieved:

  • Electricity consumption reduced by 40%

  • Natural Gas consumption reduced by 50%

  • Water Consumption reduced by 30%