A welcome hotel reception for DSR
After successful trials, Marriott International Europe has embraced Demand Side Response (DSR). John Conlon, the company's Head of Engineering and Facilities, tells us why the chain has rolled out the red carpet for DSR.
A welcome hotel reception for DSR
"It underlines our credibility as a business committed to sustainable energy use and it has resulted in some very positive media coverage."
John Conlon, Head of Engineering and Facilities for Marriott International Europe.
There’s a net benefit for each hotel and we’ve set a target of £0.5m for the group over the next five years.
Source: Marriott International Europe.
At Marriott International the first thing we needed in order to understand the benefits of DSR for our business was a positive mindset. Initially, it seemed to make little sense – it’s 6pm, it’s been a hot day, the hotel is full of people getting ready for the evening and we are being asked to reduce our demand for electricity. Really?
Once we came to understand the concept however, we wanted to be involved. From a small beginning with a pilot in just four of our hotels, we have expanded our participation in DSR to 29 hotels in the UK with more hotels potentially being added this year in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.
The concept is that small reductions in demand from our hotels, and the other businesses that we are aggregated with by KiWi Power, add up to a significant overall reduction. This allows National Grid to keep the system in balance during times of high demand or when additional flexibility is called for. The key for us is to reduce demand without affecting our operations.
For us the initial focus was on large pieces of electrical equipment such as the chillers that we use for air conditioning and refrigeration. Shutting these down for short periods of time within agreed parameters can be done with little or no effect on our operations, certainly as far as our guests are concerned.
As an illustration, if you turn off a domestic freezer for an hour it will still hold its temperature for a period of time without any problems. The same concept holds good on a larger scale. Over the period we’ve been providing a demand response service we’ve never had any adverse reaction from our guests.
A good fit
The idea wasn’t entirely new to us. We knew our hotels in the USA have been active in DSR for some time. Once we became aware there was a market opportunity in the UK we started to look at how we could unlock it.
KiWi Power was recommended to us as a forward-thinking, innovative partner. Initially we were wary as KiWi Power is a relatively small company with a flat hierarchy where decisions are made very quickly, whereas with a large corporation like ours we sometimes need longer to ensure the concept is fully tested. However, it’s turned out to be a very good fit and we’re now in our fourth year of working with them.
In the first year of working with KiWi Power it was a case of understanding the concept and how it would affect our operations. In the second year we ran the pilot at four hotels in the UK to make sure they were comfortable with the concept and to give them time to get used to it. Then the following year we extended it into 29 hotels.
Typically a hotel is contacted by KiWi Power and given a couple of hours’ notice of a turn-off lasting for around an hour. The relevant equipment has controls fitted which allow KiWi Power to turn it off and on remotely. All our hotels have separate contracts with KiWi Power so they agree at a local level how much capacity they are committing to provide. Once the system is up and running it’s almost effortless on our part.
Proud to be involved
We receive a payment for making ourselves available for DSR and again whenever we are asked to turn down our equipment. There’s a net benefit for each hotel and we’ve set a target of £0.5m for the group over the next five years.
However, the major benefit for us is that it underlines our credibility as a business committed to sustainable energy use and it has resulted in some very positive media coverage. Marriott is very proud to participate in a scheme that is helping to ensure security of supply for the UK.
As well as extending DSR to more of our hotels in Europe in the coming year, we’re also working with KiWi Power to bring more pieces of equipment within the scheme, right down to things like ice machines, so we can maximise the potential of our assets.