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Off-grid Hilton resort breaks oil dependency with Flogas

20 November 2015

A luxury resort in the Scottish Highlands is set to significantly reduce its emissions and energy costs after swapping its oil-fired heating system for a complete biomass and LPG solution from Flogas

The Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch is now benefitting from energy-efficient, reliable and economical space heating and hot water, thanks to a new 199kW wood-pellet-fired biomass boiler with LPG back-up. Custom-designed to fulfil the yearly two million kilowatt hours (kWh) heating and hot water demands of the resort’s 32 guest suites, as well as its dining and leisure facilities, the new Flogas system has projected annual carbon savings of more than 65%, and the promise of ongoing payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

After extensive refurbishment to turn the former Hilton Hotel in Royal Deeside into a Hilton Grand Vacations Club property, the management team needed to address the ongoing heating requirements of the new luxury timeshare development. Keen to find a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative to the existing kerosene-fired system – which was using more than 200,000 litres of oil every year – they investigated biomass as a potential new fuel source. Michael Coletta, director of business management, Hilton Grand Vacations EMEA, approached leading supplier Flogas for a tailored solution.

He explains: “As a reliable, carbon-neutral fuel, biomass made perfect sense for the new vacation ownership suites and other facilities – especially given the high hot water demands of our two indoor swimming pools, gym and spa, which make up around 70% of our total consumption. The addition of a dependable LPG back-up system also provides full peace-of-mind for both Hilton Grand Vacations and our guests.”

Neville Scott, National Account Manager at Flogas, adds: “Although often used on its own as a lower cost, more efficient alternative to oil, LPG is also the perfect partner for biomass systems. It allows businesses to move to a renewable energy source, whilst still enjoying the security of a back-up fuel that can cut costs by up to 40% and emissions by up to 50%. As shown by Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch, a biomass/LPG combination is often the ideal way for buildings to break their dependency on oil for the long term, which is why it’s an important part of the total energy service Flogas offers.”

Coletta continues: “We chose to work with Flogas as the expert team offered a bespoke, turnkey solution: one that would not only ensure consistent, readily available heating and hot water with a reduced carbon footprint, but would also deliver a significant return on investment. The team managed the whole process from start to finish – ensuring the system met our exact needs, and that the transition from oil to renewables was as seamless as possible.”

After assessing the site’s exact heating requirements, Flogas specified and installed a 199kW wood pellet boiler, 3,000L buffer tank, pellet storage and chimney stack, which fulfils around 60% of the resort’s annual heat demand. Three existing oil boilers were also converted to LPG to provide reliable back-up when needed and to support the biomass system during peak season.

Aileen Munro, lodge and estate manager at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch, says: “Our guests’ comfort is the number one priority for all the staff here at the resort, so it’s vital that we can rely on a heating system that delivers, all year round. We opted for the integrated biomass and LPG system from Flogas because it does just that. We’re expecting it to significantly cut our carbon footprint and costs – with projections showing that the change from oil to biomass and LPG will save around 400 tonnes of CO2 a year, as well as the financial benefits that accrue from cheaper fuels. The new system is also eligible for support under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which will provide us with quarterly, inflation-linked payments over the next 20 years.”

The new biomass system has been installed in a timber-clad cabin on the site of the old kerosene oil tanks. It uses insulated pipes to transport hot water to a plant room approximately 70m away in the main resort building, where the LPG boiler is also located. The on-site LPG tanks have been mounded to ensure they fit unobtrusively with the surroundings, and are refuelled regularly by Flogas’ national LPG delivery network. For ultimate ease, Hilton is also benefiting from the automatic biomass fuel supply service from Flogas Renewables, with sensors in the biomass pellet silo triggering alerts and delivery when supply drops below a certain level.

Greg Hilton, head of Flogas Renewables, says: “The Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Craigendarroch is a perfect example of a large-scale, off-grid property leading the way in lower-impact, future-proof heating. The resort has made a huge reduction in its future emissions and energy costs by switching to the new biomass and LPG solution. We look forward to seeing Hilton reap the benefits of its cleaner heating system for many years to come, and we’re very proud to have been part of such a pioneering project.”

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