A hydro-powered hotel
Sustainability is at the heart of Falls Hotel & Spa in Ennistymon, County Clare.
Recently declared a carbon neutral property, The Falls Hotel & Spa was the winner of the 2021 SEAI Energy Award for Innovative Deployment of Renewable Energy.
60%savings on annual electricity bills
70%+hotel’s electricity powered by renewable energy
70%reduction in carbon emissions
The Falls Hotel & Spa in Ennistymon, County Clare, is a family run hotel with 140 bedrooms, nine apartments, a spa and leisure centre with a swimming pool.
The hotel owners, the McCarthys, looked at ways to make the hotel more sustainable. Located at the gateway to The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher Geopark, they wanted to reduce the environmental impact of their business on the world around them.
“About six years ago we looked to the river beside us to see could we produce a more sustainable energy to power the hotel,” said Sharon Malone, Marketing Manager, Falls Hotel & Spa.
The River Inagh and cascades runs alongside the hotel and so the McCarthys investigated the possibility of harnessing the energy of the river to power the hotel. In the 1960s, previous owner of the hotel, John F Woods, had installed a 30kWH hydroelectric plant on the site, for what was then, a 20-bedroom hotel so the McCarthys knew there was potential here.
They researched turbines and installed a 220kWH hydroelectric turbine on the river. They worked in consultation with Clare County Council, the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board and the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht to ensure that the project was carried out as safely as possible.
It was important to protect the wildlife in the river and its surroundings, so construction works were timed around the salmon migration periods. The existing salmon leap, which had become damaged over time, was reinstated. Construction went on for approximately two years with the turbine being commissioned in December 2018.
“We love being able to let our customers and guests know that they're staying in a carbon neutral hotel and they love hearing the story of our journey to getting to this point.”
A year after the turbine installation, the hotel had reduced their energy consumption by 812,000 kWh of electricity. This counteracts the emission of an estimated 550 tonnes of carbon. It now provides up to 70% of the hotel’s annual energy needs. In winter this can reach 100% when the river is in full flow. This has transferred into savings of approximately 60% of their annual electricity bills.
The hotel reduced its carbon emissions by approximately 70%, incentivising them to push on and reduce their emissions in other parts of the hotel. They implemented a tree planting policy and planted 350 native Irish trees on the property so far this year.
By March 2021, the Falls Hotel and Spa were declared a carbon neutral property by Green Hospitality and awarded the GreenMark.ie Carbon Neutral12 certification.
“We are absolutely honoured to win the award for the Innovative Deployment of Renewable Energy from the SEAI. We would like to thank our green team within the hotel, without the green team, this wouldn’t be able to happen. And McCarthy family for their vision in the hydro turbine project,” says Sharon Malone, Marketing Manager, Falls Hotel & Spa.
The hotel’s Green Team will continue to monitor its energy use and find new ways to become even more sustainable in future.
2021 SEAI Energy Awards
A total of ten awards were presented to individuals, businesses, communities, and public sector organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to sustainable energy and climate action.
The online awards ceremony was hosted by broadcast journalist, Andrea Gilligan, who was joined by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan T.D. and Duncan Stewart, the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Energy Award.See our 2021 winners