Last winter the French ski resort of Serre Chevalier Vallée announced its aim of producing 30% of its own electricity needs from renewable sources by 2021.
This was quite a bold plan – some ski areas are lucky enough to already have commercial hydro electric power generators on site that pre-date current concerns about climate change, others buy-in green energy or carbon offset the brown power they use and some are investing in wind, solar and other renewable power schemes, but with a few big exceptions, most of these only generate a fraction of the power a ski resort needs to operate.
Serre Chevalier Vallée believes it is the first ski resort to produce its own electricity combining three types of renewable energy: hydroelectricity through the snow-making network, photovoltaics with 1420 solar panels, some of which were designed in Serre Chevalier, and micro-wind turbines with two wind turbines.
For this winter, after what the resort describes as “very positive results after the first winter,” new green energy infrastructure is being added to move Serre Chevalier Vallée closer to that 30% target only 16 months away.
A new wind turbine will be installed near to the one already in place at the top of Prorel, and extra sites will be equipped with photovoltaic panels to maximise generated by the sunshine of the Southern Alps at higher altitude (the resort is marketed with the fact that, as well as a lot of snow, it gets 300 days of sunshine a year).
The resort’s first production unit for hydroelectricity should also be set up and operational in 2020.
That local company based in Serre Chevalier that has created unique flexible solar panels is called Sunwind.
Sunwind’s unique flexible solar panels can be installed directly onto existing infrastructures and lift stations even when they have a curved surface, as the panels are much thinner and more adaptable than conventional units.
The four new locations being equipped with solar panels for the coming winter are all lift stations and they include the new Eychauda six-seater chairlift that is being installed in the resort’s Monêtier sector. This it will be the first Poma lift equipped with these flexible panels.