Amazing ideas to fight climate change from ski resorts
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Amazing Ideas to Fight Climate Change from Ski Resorts

Communities in ski resorts have been witnessing climate change for decades and taking measures long before climate change hit the headlines. Local power sources are often hydroelectric, ski resorts are accessible by rail and they are as energy efficient as possible in terms of heating. Most ski resorts are far more concerned about the planet, being environmentally friendly and are more likely to be carbon neutral than the towns and cities we live in.

For skiers concerned about climate change, the main issue is not how green the ski resort is, but how much CO2 our transport to get there is likely to emit? Some resorts do more than others and have come up with particularly innovative ideas beyond wind, solar, ground source and hydro-electric generation. Here are some of the different and more unusual approaches they take to cut their CO2 emissions…

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Kinetic Energy in Les Gets, France

Energy is needed to make anything go uphill. Whether it’s our own energy ski touring with skins, electricity or diesel powering ski lifts that drag or carry us up a slope. On the reverse, things going downhill can generate energy – and several ski resorts generate more energy from the motion of the lift itself! Les Gets in the French Alps is one, recuperating kinetic energy from the rotation of pulleys on pylons on their Les Planeys chairlift.

Stay At:

Aviemore is a luxury set of apartments set on the piste in the family orientated resort of Les Gets, offering ski-in ski-out access.

Les Gets ski holidays

Snow-farming in Livigno, Italy

Snow-farming is essentially storing stockpiled snow undercover from the end of the season so it can be reused. The snow helps build a base at the start of the following season, rather than using energy for snowmaking in marginal conditions. Despite the jury being out on whether collecting and re-purposing the snow is more eco-friendly, it clearly shows innovation.

Livigno now stores a total of 50,000 cubic metres of snow in this way every year and the resort’s managers have reported that snow farming saves a lot of energy compared to artificial snowmaking.

Stay At:

Hotel Amerikan in Livigno has an enviable position, just 20m from the lifts. The hotel features an eco-friendly indoor pool, pizzeria, and restaurant.

Livigno ski holidays

Snow farming in Livigno ski resort in Italy to fight climate change

Renewable Electric Shuttle Buses in Saas Fee, Switzerland

Numerous ski resorts have introduced hybrid or bio-diesel powered transport, but several now have all-electric minibuses circulating their resorts. In winter 2016/17, Saas-Fee introduced zero-emission electric buses that use renewable energy to recharge the batteries. Following suit, this winter Val Thorens in France has introduced a self-driving electric shuttle bus service that is free of charge for skiers.

Stay At:

Located in the heart of Saas Fee, the Walliserhof Grand Hotel & Spa is one of the top luxury ski hotels in Switzerland boasting superb swimming pool and spa facilities.

Saas Fee ski holidays

Cheese Power in St. Moritz, Switzerland

St. Moritz and the surrounding Engadin valley has a very long-standing reputation as innovators in terms of renewable energy. Switzerland’s first electric light bulb was illuminated in St. Moritz’s Hotel Kulm more than 150 years ago, which now uses local hydropower. Today it has its own clean energy supply that it exports to the wider area.

One of the more novel ideas is employed by the highest-altitude dairy in the Alps, the Lataria Engiadinaisa (LESA). They send whey leftovers from the cheese-making process to generate 280,000 kWh of electricity a year. That’s enough for over 1,200 households. In addition, the 4,000 tons of waste involved each year is no longer transported to the lowlands for disposal but used locally.

Stay At:

Located in the centre of St. Moritz, the Hotel Steffani is a popular with a wide range of clientele.

St Moritz ski holidays

Cheese Power in St Moritz ski resort in Switzerland

Heat Recovery in Skiwelt, Austria

The motors that power ski lifts and snowmaking machinery generate a lot of heat and buildings need heat to keep warm inside. Matching these ideas together is called ‘heat recovery’. This is done by piping excess engine heat underground to heat nearby buildings.

In 2007, a heat recovery system with concrete core activation was incorporated. This was placed in the new section of the Alpenrosenbahn lift station that was built in Austria’s Skiwelt area.

In winter, the administration building is heated using recovered waste heat from the pumping station of the snowmaking system and transformer station. Thanks to this system, 27.88 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are saved every year.

Stay At:

The Hochfilzer in Ellmau is a popular family-run hotel that offers high standards of cuisine and service.

Ellmau ski holidays

Variable-frequency Drives in Breckenridge, USA

One way to cut CO2 emissions is to use less power, which is what variable-frequency drive motors (VFDs) do. They allow a higher percentage of electricity from the grid to be used effectively to drive the lift. And, use approximately 30% less electricity to run a lift than a traditional motor. Breckenridge has variable-frequency drive motors on several of its main lifts, significantly reducing electricity use.

Stay At:

Located at the base of Peak 8 and with direct access to four chairlifts, One Ski Hill Place boasts the ultimate location.

Breckenridge ski holidays

Breckenridge ski resort Colorado USA

Solar Power in Zermatt, Switzerland

Solar power systems work much more efficiently at higher altitudes than at ground level, which is good news for ski resorts. However, solar panels covered in snow don’t work so well, not such good news. The intuitive solution is to place the panels at steep angles, so the snow slides off. In Zermatt the photovoltaic panels at 3,800m (12,500 feet) produce 80% more electricity than panels at sea level. This is thanks to the clear air and extra light reflection from the snowy mountains.

Stay At:

One of the leading hotels in the Alps, Zermatt’s Mont Cervin Palace is located near the Gornergrat station in the centre of town.

Zermatt ski holidays

Energy from human waste in Davos, Switzerland

And, last but not least… treating sewage sludge leads to the production of gas that can be converted into energy: biogas. The gas is derived from the biological decomposition of organic matter – sludge – in a place where there is little air. Through anaerobic digestion, the energy is recovered, allowing the treatment plant to be autonomous energy. Recovering biogas also stops odours and cuts emissions of methane, which are far more harmful than CO2. Davos is one of several resorts operating a bio-gas plant and heating buildings in town.

Stay At:

The AlpenGold Hotel Davos is a lavish Alpine getaway with superb mountain views.

Davos ski holidays

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