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Campgrounds Will Start Offering More Renewable Energy

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Nov 28, 2022
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As the effects of climate change become more and more evident, people are looking for ways to switch to cleaner energy. Most of the focus has been on houses and commercial buildings, but what about other uses of electricity, such as camping? The outdoor activity that used to be about getting away from the modern world has become yet another place where people use power.

The standard RV uses just 10 kWh (kilowatt-hours) less than a typical house. While this doesn’t sound like a lot for one vehicle, picture how many campers now fill up campsites – it’s practically challenging to find someone in a tent. Now that so many find electricity necessary for camping, what can campgrounds do to shrink their carbon footprint? Some will start offering more renewable energy.

How Campers Can Benefit From Renewables

People were feeling increasingly cooped up when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. No one could travel, so they turned to camping for their escape. While this absolutely benefitted campground owners, it also brought some issues.

Mike Sokol of RVtravel.com said sites that could provide electrical hookups to EVs quickly filled up and the campgrounds haven’t been able to keep up with the demand. Thus, an up-and-coming solution has begun to emerge: Solar power.

America’s Largest RV Show in 2021 displayed various new solar options campers might love. Renewables decrease the need for electric generators, which disrupt the tranquility of the campground. Sokol also says it could increase accessibility for campers who require medical devices, such as CPAP machines. Additionally, utilizing solar equipment can help people generate their own power without having to rely on the site.

Future RVs could also begin to follow suit. While the renewable options for camping currently focus on providing energy while at the campground, they could eventually evolve into powering drivable RVs. This could cut costs for campers in two ways: Not having to purchase gas for their RVs and having a more reliable charging system for the various batteries it may have.

Why More Parks Are Looking to Renewable Energy

The price of electricity is rising nationwide. In Massachusetts alone, customers could see a 64% increase on their bills from $179 to $293 for the winter. Imagine having to cover the costs of the hundreds of people who may stay at a campsite. The grounds may end up needing to hike prices to make ends meet, which could drive populations of customers away. Such reasons are why more owners are taking an interest in renewable energy.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi – whose William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park provides entirely renewable power – says it would be questionable not to adopt solar. The site’s 460 panels offer 90% of the electricity the campground will use. Combining solar panels and shelters also serves the purposes of having a non-disruptive place for the panels and providing shade for parked RVs. Renewables could solve the problem of having enough electricity for campers and reducing prices.

Many people’s primary thought about solar is how expensive it must be. However, government incentives are helping with this problem. John Grant of RV Park Brokerage said his two systems cost around $400,000 after tax benefits but produce around $90,000 of electricity per year. Such output provides an over 20% return on investment, meaning the panels will quickly recoup their costs.

KOA’s PowerParasols are also showing extreme savings. Because solar panels produce their own energy, campground owners don’t have to rely on buying power from the grid to provide electricity to their campers. The company’s Tucson/Lazydays campground utilizes these PowerParasols to generate 85–90% of its energy needs, which saves it around $330,000 annually.

Combining Camping and Nature Once Again

Camping is the activity that many use to return to nature, so it makes sense to power those outings using natural sources. Campers and campground owners alike are seeing the benefits. Those who frequent the outdoors could see increasing usage of renewable energy at campgrounds soon.

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