Almost all ski areas are doing their best to reduce their CO2 emmissions in the fight against climate change. Some are trying extra hard though and these areas and what they’re doing are listed A-Z by country then by resort below. Most are 100% powered by renewable energy, many make the energy locally and export the excess to the grid.
Thredbo has many different environmental initiatives including an initaitive to allow skiers to buy a $4 tree with their lift ticket – 30,000 trees planted since 2014. The resort offsets all of its enegy usage and part of the heating system at the Thredbo Leisure Centre is a series of electric heat pumps that recovers the “heat” from nearby snowmaking ponds and uses it to assist heating the swimming pool.
The Skiwelt region, one of Austria’s largest, has wide-ranging initiatives to cut CO2 emissions. One example is the Brixen “Sonnenlift’ (sun lift) , is powered exclusively by solar energy thanks to a large photovoltaic system, around 12,000 kilowatt-hours are generated per year – it even produces a small surplus, which is fed into the electricity grid.
A long time campaigner on the environment, making strong moves in that direction since the early 1990s, the resort’s stated environmental mission is, “Zero waste, zero carbon, zero net emissions.” In 2010, a micro hydro renewable energy plant situated in the middle of Whistler Blackcomb underneath Peak to Peak Gondola began production, returning to the grid the equivalent of Whistler Blackcomb’s annual energy demand.
The five resorts making up the Grand Massif ski area (Flaine, Samoens, Morillon, Les Carroz and Sixt) have been 100% green energy powered since 2016. In 2012 all five resorts earned AlpEnergies100 certification for their long-term commitment to reduce CO2 emissions and for committing to exclusively using renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, and solar power). Theya re also Green Globe certified.
Alta Badia has a wide range of initiatives to fight climate change. Since 2004 the heat generated from cooling the ice skating dome is used to heat the nearby buildings (council, kindergarten, elementary school, and tennis hall) and since 2009 the ice skating dome has a photovoltaic system (165 kW). Since 2002 a hydroelectric power generator in the valley has been generating about 500.000 kW per year and in the village of La Villa a communal heating system powered by wood chips reaches over 300 users through a pipeline that carries water at a temperature of 85 degrees.
San Martino di Castrozza has been powered by renewable electricity for over a century (since before most places even had electricity in fact) it has increased its green credential still further in recent years replacing old individual oil-powered heating systems in hotels with a communal biomass green energy system and petrol pumps with charging points for electric cars. And that’s just the start…
There are two SnowWorld indoor snow centres in The Netherlands and both have their rooves covered in solar panels. The project to add 13,000 solar panels to the two large rooves was completed in 2018. In total the two generate approximately 2.500.000 kWh every year and on sunny days the solar roof produces more energy than is needed to power the indoor ski slope with the surplus energy supplied to locals who live nearby. “Eventually”, says Wim Moerman, CFO at SnowWorld, “the goal is to become completely self sufficient.”
Nevis Range in the Scottish Highlands is powered by a £4 million hydro electric scheme that delivers 1,100kW of clean green electricity. It provides green electricity to the base station at Nevis Range to power the centre’s gondola, offices and the Pinemarten café. When there is excess power it is be exported to the grid.
Laax is one of the most committed ski regions in the fight for the environment and against climate change, an initiative it calls Greenstyle which covers everything it does. . It is 100% hydro powered but also generates solar on site which covers 30% of its power needs and has plans to generate more green energy than the region needs from wind power on its Vorab glacier.
As long ago as 1950, when the road to Saas-Fee was built, the citizens decided that the village should remain car-free. Since early 2012 the resort has covered all its energy needs with 100% NaturEnergie − clean hydroelectricity generated in the Valais. The resort has long been recognised as a leading force in the fight againt climate change and has many initiatives in place to this end.
Jiminy Peak is perhaps not one of the world’s best known ski areas but it is one of the world’s most pro-active on fighting climate change. In 2007, after three years of financial and engineering challenges – the resort’s giant “Zephyr” wind turbine began generating power. Costing $3.9 million, the 1.5 megawatt wind turbine uses three 123-ft. blades mounted to a 253-ft (76m). tower. From blade-tip to ground, it’s 386-ft (116m) tall. Jiminy’s wind turbine generates 4.6 million kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy per year – about 33 percent of the total electricity consumption of the resort.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California
Long-time campaigners on the environment with many eco and power-consumption-reduction-initiatives, in 2018 the resort started working with a local power company to create a local solar power plant to meet 100% of the resort’s energy needs and provide the option of buying solar power from 49,000 local househholds in the area too.
Wolf Creek, Colorado
Wolf Creek Ski Area normally receives all of its power from a local solar plant which opened in 2017, although used green power offsets to buy in wind energy when the sun doesn’t shine. The ski area is located 50 miles from the state’s Penitente Solar Project where power began being produced at the end of last year and can produce 7,000 megawatt-hours per year, of which Wolf Creek requires about 1,000 megawatts.