Starting April 19, the 366-room Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers in Denmark will be partially powered by the leg strength of its guests. Electricity-producing bicycles will be installed in the hotel gym, and the electricity generated by pedaling guests will be stored in a battery and fed back into the hotel’s main power supply. Unlike those signs asking guests to conserve water by not having the hotel wash their towels every day, the Crown Plaza is offering a tangible incentive. Anyone who produces at least 10 watt hours of electricity for the hotel gets a free locally produced meal. (The comped meal is valued at 200 Danish Kroner, or around $36.)
The bicycle program will run for one year, and if it’s successful it will be offered to all Crowne Plaza hotels in the UK. Biking guests will also be able to monitor how much electricity they’re producing via iPhones mounted on the handle bars. Starting in June, the more ambitious can also “race” against the hotel’s solar panel system in a bid to produce the most electricity.
How hard will it be to get that free locally produced meal? The hotel estimates that an hour of average speed biking (30 kmph/19 mph) will generate 100 watt hours of electricity — so you would only need to bike for about 6 minutes to eat for free. While the actual energy production is minimal — 10 watt hours would only be enough to power a 40 watt light bulb for 15 minutes — the hotel says they wanted an “achievable” target to encourage as much participation as possible.
The emphasis seems to be more on involvement and raising awareness:
“Realistically, this isn’t a practical way of generating a useful amount of energy, but I certainly wouldn’t criticize it,” said Alex Randall, a spokesman for the Centre for Alternative Technology. “As a lesson, and a means of public engagement, it’s excellent – if you sit someone on a bike, pedaling hard, and show them they are only generating enough to power one lightbulb or TV, is makes them appreciate how difficult energy is to produce, and therefore why we should be careful not to waste it.”
Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers touts itself as one of the world’s greenest hotels. Some of its eco-credentials:
- Member of the UN Global Compact.
- EU Green Building and Green Key certification
- The first groundwater-based cooling and heating system in Denmark, expected to reduce the
energy used in the hotel for heating and cooling by almost 90%
- Low energy lighting and hand dryers
- The largest solar panel park in Northern Europe to be integrated into a building, covering all the
hotel’s sunny facades