Once considered self-indulgent, escaping one’s reality is now a much-needed distraction that has become increasingly relevant in today’s fast-paced world. Time-starved, overworked travellers seek to flee their city confines and wifi addictions to get back to nature; to truly escape the constant noise to simply be present and surround themselves with beautiful scenery and blissful silence.
Although &Beyond is a luxury experiential travel company that enables guests to experience and appreciate the world’s wildlife hotspots and pristine landscapes for the first time, we are also a global conservation company that strictly adheres to responsible and sustainable tourism measures to ensure that these remarkable landscapes and wildlife remain for future generations to enjoy.
From water bottling plants that provide safe drinking water and reduce plastic consumption, to recycling waste, planting trees, escaping the grid, sourcing local ingredients and reducing our carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels wherever possible, we continually look at the environment through new eyes in order to seek new and inventive ways of guarding the earth’s fragile future.
To help conserve water, as well as decrease our plastic consumption and lower our carbon footprint, &Beyond now has fully-functioning water bottling plants at eight of our luxury safari camps and lodges in Africa. We aim to have them installed at the vast majority of our lodges by the end of 2018. Read more here.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has proven itself to be a reliable, economic and effective way of reducing one’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels, as well as contributing to climate change. Here at &Beyond, we remain strong supporters of solar PV and now proudly boast two solar-powered safari lodges, with plenty more energy-efficient plans to be rolled out in the foreseeable future.
Let’s take a quick “armchair travel” escape to Botswana’s picturesque Okavango Delta, which was officially declared the 1 000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. And rightfully so. This natural wonder is a brilliant, mind-blowing maze of sparkling lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife. Known as “the river that never finds the sea”, it lies like a glittering jewel at the heart of the Kalahari Desert.
Of course, a pristine oasis like this must be protected and conserved, which is why we are actively implementing energy-saving, environmentally-friendly initiatives at our Botswana lodges. Situated in this veritable garden of Eden is the groundbreaking and award-winning architectural wonder, &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.
The installation of a 100 KW photovoltaic system, which includes two solar hot water systems, has enabled &Beyond Sandibe to operate on an energy ratio of 70% renewable to 30% non-renewable.
Also situated in the magnificent Okavango Delta, &Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp recently switched to solar power and we are thrilled to hereby reveal the camp’s newly installed, state-of-the-art off-grid electrical microgrid, which was installed by New Southern Energy (N.S.E.).
The first system of its kind in Botswana and only the second on the African continent, it incorporates a solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant and a Tesla Powerpack battery energy storage system (BESS).
For all the renewable energy fundis out there, here are some detailed facts and figures about &Beyond Xaranna’s solar hybrid system:
- It consists of 122.4 kWp solar panels, 4x 27 kW Fronius solar inverters, a 100 kVa/190 kWh of Tesla Li-ION Powerpack, 1x micro-grid controller (MGC) and 2x 125 kVA generators.
- Since this new system has been installed at &Beyond Xaranna, the generator runtime has been decreased from 24 hours to 5 hours. This 19-hour reduction not only saves diesel, but also decreases the generator services and parts required, decreases the transport costs associated with delivering diesel, decreases the emissions caused by generators and transport trucks, and decreases the noise pollution caused by generators.
- The MGC intelligently coordinates the various generation and storage components’ input and output to meet the site load. The solar panels generate DC power, which is converted by the solar inverters into AC power. The AC supply is managed by the MGC controller, which feeds the lodge as required. Energy is either supplied directly to the lodge through the main distribution board or, if the lodge’s demand is low, excess energy is redirected to the batteries for storage.
- The Tesla Powerpack System was chosen because of the high operating temperature range and cycling capacity when compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. A lead-acid battery can typically only be discharged to 50% of its capacity with only 1500 cycles available; whereas the Tesla system is warranted for 10 years to cycle daily at 100% of its capacity. This reduces the cost of providing energy to the site.
- Xaranna’s PV plant produces an average of 450 kWh of energy per day, thereby reducing the camp’s carbon footprint by 4,500 000 kg a year. The system has been sized to supply more than 80% of &Beyond Xaranna’s energy requirements from renewable energy, while maintaining the high service levels that our guests have come to expect. The option to expand the solar PV plant and Tesla Powerpack System capacity in future will deliver even further reductions in diesel consumption.
We remain committed to employing the latest technology to ensure our business is as sustainable as possible. Because aesthetics and non-intrusive architecture are integral to the &Beyond philosophy, the integration of &Beyond Xaranna’s PV plant and Tesla Powerpack was designed to be as visually appealing as possible. To ensure the lightest footprint on the sensitive wetland area, no concrete was used in the construction of the plant and, if necessary, the entire system can be relocated or removed with no permanent impact to the land, as per the strictly-enforced Botswana park regulations.
What steps are you taking today, and every day, both as organisations and as individuals, to help protect the planet? The reality is that we can all make changes in our lives and businesses, both big and small, to help conserve energy and utilise renewable resources. Every bit really does help, so let’s all continue to do what we can to ensure the safety, protection and longevity of the world’s remaining natural vistas.