The Winds of Change

A Scottish ski centre is to offer a guarantee of snow, thanks to its new green-energy snow maker

The Lecht ski area in Scotland will offer guaranteed snow this winter thanks to their purchase of a ‘Snowfactory’ – an all-weather, snow-making machine.

All-weather snow-makers are proving increasingly popular at ski resorts as they guarantee snow cover whatever the weather, but The Lecht’s approach of ensuring the snow it makes has been matched with green-energy. The electricity to power the machine is produced by the centre’s wind turbine – believed to be a world first – and possibly a sign of things to come in the ski business. If climate change is not tackled fast, artificial snow could be the next step for the snow sports industry.

The Snowfactory, Scotland’s newest snow-making machine, pictured below:

Scottish Ski Centre To Offer Guaranteed Snow Powered by Green Energy (2)

Unlike conventional snow-making, which pumps water through underground pipe networks when temperatures are low enough for snow to form, the Snowfactory creates snow within refrigerated units, then sprays it onto the slopes through a long, flexible hose, so it doesn’t matter how warm it is outdoors. Of course, because the snow is just made with water and no chemical additives, it will still thaw if it is above freezing; however, more snow can be made to maintain snow cover.

A spokesperson for The Lecht revealed that they had successfully run the unit in June this year, saying:

“The GB Park and Pipe youth team also enjoyed the benefits of the Snowfactory with a very successful training camp at The Lecht on three of the hottest days in June. The run in to the jump was made with real snow on top of matting and the landing was onto the airbag. From now on we may be seeing more snow in the summer months as well as in the winter.”

Three of Scotland’s five Highland ski areas are believed to have purchased the all-weather snow-making units from the manufacturer, Techno Alpin. Glencoe, on the country’s west coast had been aiming to acquire one for over a year and just like The Lecht tested a unit last season. Cairngorm recently announced a £1mn spend on snow-making, which appears to include the purchase of a third unit.

Scottish Ski Centre To Offer Guaranteed Snow Powered by Green Energy

Snow produced by The Lecht’s snow maker in a pre-season test (pictured above)

The area that each Snowfactory can physically cover is limited, and they are mostly used to guarantee snow for beginner areas or terrain parks; one ski area in Germany is known to have purchased three of the units to cover a longer run. Nonetheless, unlike most Scottish winters throughout snow sports history, The Lecht have said with some confidence that they will open some of their slopes in early December, thanks to the Snowfactory.

 

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