Getting the free meal is surprisingly easy. The hotel’s calculations suggest one guest cycling at 30kmph for an hour will produce around 100 watt hours of electricity, meaning that reaching the threshold for the meal should take only six minutes.
Critics might argue that even those who cycle for a full hour will be making a rather token contribution to the energy use of a huge city hotel – 100 watt hours of energy is only enough to light a single 100 watt bulb for one hour. However the hotel counters that it wanted the target to be “achievable” so as many people as possible take part.
The hotel, which opened in November last year, is attempting to become carbon neutral. It has EU Green Building and Green Key certification and uses a groundwater-based cooling and heating system, low energy lighting and hand dryers, and is covered in solar panels on its south-facing aspects. So will its latest scheme catch on at other hotels around the world?
“Realistically, this isn’t a practical way of generating a useful amount of energy, but I certainly wouldn’t criticise 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, pedalling 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.”