Industry News

The Turbine Boutique Hotel Continues to Make History with New Clean Energy

Chris Schutte, General Manager at the 5-star Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa, Thesen Island in Knysna, announced that at 05h00 on 1 December 2022, the Turbine switched off its generator and incoming power supply to connect up its new Solar Power inverter. 

“The Turbine is entering a new phase in electricity generation…it has been over 22 years since the turbines last generated electricity, and now, via renewable solar panels installed on the roof of this historic building, we are once again seeing the Turbine becoming a source of power for our guests.” 

The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa stand on the site where the original power station is. Built in 1939 and fuelled by wood waste generated by the local sawmills, it supplied Knysna and Plettenberg Bay with electricity until it was decommissioned in 2001. Now, in a history-making moment, the site is generating electricity again. This time via solar panels and an inverter – renewable and clean energy to suit the new era – meeting the challenges of global warming and lowering dependence on a flagging and increasingly expensive national grid supply. 

Schutte said that while the hotel cannot, in reality, go ‘off the grid’ (there’s a backup diesel generator for when there is load shedding and the solar panels are grid-tied and have no batteries), the installation of 90 solar panels represents a saving on the use of Council electricity and is another means of reducing its carbon footprint. The Turbine is proud that it generates 30% of its own electricity during the summer months. 

“Since its inception in 2010, when the Turbine transformed from an old power station to a trendy boutique hotel, it has made every effort to be as eco-friendly as possible. You can’t be in a place as beautiful as Knysna and not be aware that we all need to, in some way or other, be committed to responsible and sustainable tourism. That we have maintained a relatively light footprint over the years is largely due to the range of energy and water-saving measures incorporated and implemented,” he said.

Some measures incorporated include:

  • Solar water heating – solar panels and heat pumps provide all the hot water for the hotel.
  • Smart technology – an automated system that ensures the switching off of all electrical devices upon exiting the rooms. 
  • Energy savers in rooms – light fittings with low-energy lightbulbs (LED or CFL).
  • An energy monitoring system for spikes and high usage 
  • A rainwater harvesting system – a runoff and storage system for rainwater was developed to be for irrigation and backup water for the hotel.
  • Rooms and public spaces were designed and positioned to maximise natural light and ventilation. 
  • Further water savings were made by planting only indigenous plants, laying artificial lawns and fitting all bathrooms with water-saving shower heads and dual flush toilets.
  • The kitchen runs on gas, and during winter, heating in the public areas is by flueless gas fireplaces.
  • Paper, cardboard, glass and plastic waste are separated and collected for recycling purposes.
The Solar panels were designed, supplied and installed by the Knysna-based Evolve Africa Energy -proudly bringing the power of the sun to you – a team of passionate energy engineers with the sole purpose and drive to produce clean energy that is reliable, cost-effective and dependable.

Located along the Garden Route, arguably one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Turbine Hotel Boutique Hotel and Spa comprises 26 luxury and standard rooms, the 90-seater Island Café and the Gastro Pub, conference facilities and a spa. It is a luxury hotel that demonstrates, with great success, the seamless merging of historical and contemporary values and green practices.

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