A hotel in County Clare has harnessed the power of a nearby waterfall to go carbon neutral.
The Falls Hotel & Spa in Ennistymon, County Clare, has become the first hotel in Ireland to be fully powered by a waterfall thanks to the installation of a €1.3 million hydroelectric turbine on the nearby River Inagh.
The 140-bedroom hotel achieved carbon-neutral status by Green Hospitality Ireland after eliminating its carbon output over a five-year period, meaning that guests will leave no carbon footprint when they visit the hotel once it reopens later this year.
The Falls Hotel has also undertaken several other environmental projects, including the planting of 350 native Irish trees on the hotel grounds and switching to renewable electricity and Bio LPG gas. The hotel also uses water from a well on the grounds, while cleaning staff use chemical-free cleaning products.
The McCarthy family, who own the Falls Hotel, was conscious of the hotel's location in the heart of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, while the drive for change was also driven by guests, staff, and locals.
Michael McCarthy, the hotel's general manager, said that the family was "delighted" to receive carbon-neutral status.
"We are extremely proud of this award. With 140 bedrooms, a leisure center, and a spa complex, we went from having a large carbon footprint to being carbon neutral in five short years; it’s a massive achievement," McCarthy said in a statement.
"Being based in an area of such natural beauty as the Burren, we felt compelled to do our best to minimize our impact on the area around us. Utilizing the power of the river alongside us seemed the best place to start our sustainability journey."
The McCarthy family replaced a 30-kWh hydroelectric turbine on-site with a 220-kWh turbine that provides roughly 70% of the hotel's annual energy needs.
The turbine can provide 100% of the hotel's energy during winter when the River Inagh is in full flow, while the hotel uses other renewable energy sources during drier spells.
Any excess electricity will be sold back to the national grid or stored in a battery unit for later use.
Meanwhile, more native Irish trees will be planted on the hotel grounds every year, and guests are encouraged to reduce their own carbon footprint by adopting a tree. The hotel also encourages guests to re-use towels, use less water, turn off lights and heating when they are not in use, and separate rubbish into the correct bins.
"It is our responsibility to take direct action to minimize our environmental footprint and we have additional plans to further reduce our absolute consumption and drive even greater levels of sustainability within the hotel," Michael McCarthy said.