Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: The hospitality sector, a major area of Rajasthan’s economy, has pledged before the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah to adopt techniques for alternative energy sources.

The hotel industry, especially the heritage hotels, can be vanguards in the movement for green energy in a sun-rich State like Rajasthan, they said. For his part Dr. Abdullah said it was for the doyens of the hospitality industry, among whom were many former rulers of the erstwhile princely States, to show the way.

Urja Divas

At an interactive session on “Maximising renewable energy integration in the hospitality sector” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on the occasion of Akshaya Urja Divas, the captains of the hospitality sector in the State identified solar water heating, solar air-conditioning, geo-thermal cooling and adaptation of wind energy devices as areas they can try out if the Government comes up with adequate incentives.

“Old palaces and havelis are guzzlers of energy,” confessed Rampratap Singh of Diggi Palace, a heritage hotel. The problem with most of the conventional buildings is in integration of solar panels and energy-saving devices, lamented Jainendra Jain, chief engineer of Rambagh Palace.

Gaj Singh, former ruler of Jodhpur who now runs the Ummed Palace hotel, said the brackish ground water in Jodhpur town had been proving a major hurdle in heating water with solar energy devices. Now that the water of the Indira Gandhi Canal is available in the city, one of the heritage hotels owned by him, the Balsamand Lake hotel, uses solar panels for heating water, he said.

“It is widely considered that the hospitality industry is energy and water intensive. Given that the sector has a high potential for growth in the coming years energy and water consumption by it may increase substantially,” said CII Northern Region Deputy Chairman Deepak Puri suggesting the need to focus on various possibilities in renewable energy usage. He was of the view that Rajasthan, where good sunlight is available for more than 314 days a year, could be a major beneficiary of the country’s heightened activities in solar energy techniques.

Possible applications

Making a presentation on renewable energy applications, Union Urban New and Renewal Energy Ministry Director (Solar Thermal) Ashwini Kumar said in the hotel industry possible applications of solar energy include solar hot water systems to heat water for rooms, swimming pools, laundry, solar steam cooking systems, solar lighting systems and solar air-conditioning.

The experts, who included Deepak Gupta, Secretary Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Debashish Majumdar, CMD, IREDA, mentioned successful case studies of Suzuki, Chennai and the rooftop auditorium of Rashtrapati Bhavan in solar lighting and solar air-conditioning. Dr. Abdullah advised the hoteliers to pay a visit to the bio-gas plant in Rashtrapati Bhavan as well.