What makes a sustainability leader? A closer look at Premier Inn’s award-winning battery storage project

With the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards entry deadline approaching, this new feature series showcases the achievements of the 2020 winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: The winners of our Energy Efficiency Project of the Year, Premier Inn.

What makes a sustainability leader? A closer look at Premier Inn’s award-winning battery storage project

Ainslie Macleod

Battery energy storage has been a hot topic in the sustainability space for several years now, but the UK is still at a stage where fare more businesses are talking about batteries than installing them. And, while several major projects co-located with utilities have been approved in the months since edie’s Awards ceremony in February, smaller, onsite battery projects are still few and far between.

Leading the way in this space is Whitbread-owned hotel chain Premier Inn, which won this category for its efforts to create the UK’s first battery-powered hotel at its Edinburgh Park location. The hotelier installed a five-tonne, 100kW lithium-ion battery at the hotel for a trial period in 2019 to assess the role batteries could play in improving energy efficiency, reducing energy costs and ultimately reducing Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions. During the trial, the battery drew power from the grid during off-peak periods. It would then discharge during peak times, providing power for up to three hours at a time. The project provided returns on investment of 20-25%.

Whitbread’s energy manager Ross Greenhalgh managed the project, working with E.ON during all stages. His colleagues praised his ability to develop close working relationships with local and regional operational teams, sharing objectives and ensuring a swift response to any potential concerns and challenges.

It is hoped that Greenhalgh’s learnings will be used to inform strategic decisions around batteries and other energy flexibility projects going forward, as Whitbread strives to halve its overall emissions by 2025. The business has set out a three-pronged framework for delivering against this ambition: data-driven insights; Building Management System (BMS) telemetry and measuring the impacts of interventions (i.e. refurbishments, extensions, innovations).

Since setting its 2025 target, Premier Inn has seen its energy consumption and carbon footprint reducing every year, despite growing its estate by 4-5% annually. It has delivered higher than average returns from investments in LED lighting and the BMS.

Regarding the battery specifically, experts have recognised the impact the trial could have beyond Whitbread’s direct operations. Whitbread worked with Resource Efficient Scotland to promote energy storage as a concept to businesses across the nation. It also received strong press coverage for the trial; the scheme made it into the BBC new website’s top ten articles on the day it was announced, capturing the imagination of those in the UK and across the world.

What edie’s judges said: An impressive, holistic approach [was] taken on this site and produced strong results, setting a scalable example of what can be achieved within the hospitality sector.”

Are you our next winner?

Now entering their 14th year for 2021, the RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are a unique opportunity to shout about the achievements you and your company have made during this challenging year. 

In a digital event on 3 February 2021, entrants will get the chance to celebrate virtually with leaders from across the sustainability, CSR and energy space. Some exciting new categories have been added for 2021 to recognise excellence across the spectrum of sustainable business. 

The 2021 Sustainability Leaders are now OPEN for entries. The entry deadline is Friday 30 October 2020, so don’t miss your chance to get the recognition you deserve. The Awards will then take place virtually on the night of Wednesday 3 February 2021.


edie Staff

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