Published on April 26th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Ride a Bike, Help Power the Hotel, & Get a Free Meal in Copenhagen

April 26th, 2010 by  

One of the “greenest hotels” in the world, the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, has an interesting new option. If you ride one of its new electricity-generating exercise bikes long enough to generate 10 watt hours or more of electricity (not long), you get a free meal worth about $45.

The bikes have iPhones on the handlebars that can tell you how much power is being produced and fed into the hotel. Fun!

The hotel didn’t want to make this a Lance Armstrong challenge — they want to get as many people using the bikes as possible. Cycling for one hour at 30km/hour (18.64 miles/hour), a guest can produce 100 watt hours of electricity. At that rate, it would only take someone six minutes to reach the 10 watt hours target they need to hit for a free meal. However, once you’re on there having fun, getting fit and watching the iPhone as you race against the building’s solar power system, you might want to stay a little longer.

“The electric bikes offer our guests the chance to get fit and help power the hotel at the same time,” said Allan Agerholm, the Copenhagen Crowne Plaza Towers’ general manager. “It will be interesting to see how many guests take part and how much electricity we generate.”

One person riding to create only 10 watt hours of electricity may not do much for the environment — that would only power a 100 watt bulb for six minutes. However, if you get enough people riding for long enough, it could make a significant difference. Plus, you are capitalizing on an activity numerous guests would be engaging in anyway. That makes me think: maybe a similar program connected to the bed springs of hotel room beds would make more sense and be a good next step! However, it would have to be sensitive about its marketing and would require another technology that might not be fully ready yet.

This bicycle pilot program will run for a year. If successful, it could spread to all Crowne Plaza hotels.

via Sideways News and Guardian

Image Credit: Lars O. via flickr/CC license

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is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Henry

    This is a classic example of greenwashing with no real movement on the needle for being environmental. Here’s why:

    Energy Saved (per Bike, best case scenario – there will be other losses):

    (100 Watts / hr) * (4 hrs / day) * ( $0.12/kWhr)

    = $0.05 / day Saved per Bike

    = $17.53 / year Saved per Bike

    Typical cost of a Bike conversion (or additional cost for an electric output):


    Typical cost of installing additional electric circuits for 4 bikes (current bikes are standalone and do not require outlets):

    ($100/hr) * (3 hrs) + ($600 materials) + ($750 permitting & design)

    = $1650

    The pay back period:

    6.7 years

    The conclusion: Hotels are constantly renewing their facilities to stay fresh and new so it’s unlikely the equipment will be in service long enough to recover the monetary investment (unless the greenwashing attracts customers – then it’s well worth it). Form an environmental perspective this project is definitely more polluting than the stand alone bikes already available – because of the additional materials and the opportunity cost of expending industrial efforts to a new product that is only, in spirit, green.

    Overall, I’d ride one, it’d be cool, but, I’d boil it down to what it really is – a greenwashing marketing gimmick that does more in raising awareness than it does in actually moving the needle on total carbon footprint.

  • Frank Hanlan

    I would love to see the idea of having exercise bikes contributing to the electrical energy needed to operate a hotel, retail store, mall, exercise facility, etc. I also agree with Sven. Let’s bypass CFLs and go right to LEDs.

  • Sven

    While little more than a gimmick, I like this a lot. I want one of those bikes. Not to mention, if this place has LED lighting it will light up quite a few of those for longer than 6 minutes.

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