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.
Alpbach, Ski Jewel, Tirol
Alpbach runs on 100% hydro electricity. However when the Jochanger reservoir situated between Alpbach and the neighbouring village of Reith was completed for winter 2007/8, holding 130.000 m³ of water, it was designed so that natural pressure, rather than electric power, was available to generate 100 % of the snow making equipment in Reith ski area and 50 % of the equipment in Alpbach.
The year round Hintertux glacier ski area uses renewable power from a hydro electrical power plant. Melt water from the glacier is used to generate electricity. Tux has a Climate Condition Community which looks at ways in which the resort can minimise its contribution to Global Warming. Tux has eight car charging stations offering charging with renewable energy and also has special promotions for houses to install solar energy and maintain lower energy demands.
The Kitzsteinhorm Lift company was the first in Austria to sign up to multiple international environmental standards including 14001 and the new energy management ISO 50001. Along with using 100% Green hydro energy and working to reduce energy consumption. Initiatives include 24 m² of solar panels on the roof of the Alpincenter which store the heat from the sun on the glacier and supply hot water to the Kitzsteinhorn’s restaurants. There’s also energy recycling with heat from the motors which run the large lifts (pictured) used to heat the buildings in the Alpincenter and the lift building at the base of the Panoramabahn.
Kuhtai has a hydro-electric plant in its community which makes so much renewable electricity it exports some power beyond what the community needs to southern Germany.
Lech-Zürs built their first renewable energy biomass plant more than 20 years ago and the community now operates four plants covering 80% of their energy needs and serving 100 hotels, over 200 homes and other businesses. This saves 8 million litres of heating oil annually and 22,000 tons of CO2 that would have been emitted in to the atmosphere otherwise are instead saved. The biomass plants generate 65 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the resort. The resort has many other initiatives including electric vehicle hire and charging points and solar panels on chairlifts to generate energy.
Being located in Tirol, all of Mayrhofen’s electricity is hydro powered. During the summer of 2013, the bottom station, summit station, and administrative building of the Ahornbahn in Mayrhofen, as well as at the Horbergbahn in Schwendau, were all equipped with photovoltaic panels. Thanks to the panels, Mayrhofen’s lift company the Mayrhofner Bergbahnen can now generate its own electricity and has reduced its annual CO2 emissions by 91,500kg.
Located at the head of a valley in winter, most of Obergurgl has ski in, ski out access so guests do not need to use their cars once they arrive. There is also a regular ski bus and part of the village is closed to traffic. The resort, in common with the rest of Tirol, use hydro-electric power.
Austria’s highest ski area built a solar farm which began operations in Autumn 2015. The system generates approximately 1,450,000kWh of power annually, energy equivalent to the needs of 380 to 420 households per year and representing around a third of the ski centre’s energy requirements. The farm covers 100m² and has solar panels suspended on twin cables that are 1,500m long in total, which can be tilted to maximise exposure to sunlight and when needed to tip off snowfall. It also works much more effectively than solar farms closer to sea level.
St Anton am Arlberg, Tirol
St Anton am Arlberg is self-sufficient in the supply of green electricity since 2006 thanks to the Kartell energy plant which was developed in 2005. The Kartell Lake reservoir holds around eight million cubic meters of water and supplies about 33 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, much more than the resort’s needs. The entire production from the Kartell Reservoir is stored by use of the existing Rosanna power plant. In addition, St Anton am Arlberg operates a biomass heating system using wood chips and a solar panel arrangement which currently provides heating and warm water for 80 housing units.
As well as being in an area supplied by 100% hydro electricity, St. Johann has been a member of the “Klimaschutzbündnis” climate policy group since 1997. This has meant traffic reduction measures, a pedestrian zone and in winter a ski bus service in the whole area. The public sport centre ‘Panorama Badewelt’ runs with solar energy and industrial waste heat (with the geo-thermal heat of industrial sewage water). Many private houses and apartments in the village also work with solar panels, geo-thermal heat and bio mass heat and even the local secondary school is warmed with geo-thermal heat. There is also a rail station in resort.
Seefeld uses 100% hydro energy from the Tirol and in it also built a wastewater treatment plant which generates hydro electricity. The waste water from Seefeld at 1200m above sea level flows down to the village of Zirl, 600m below, through a hydro electric turbine and produces enough electricity to cover about 25% of the community’s electricity needs. Many hotels already use solar power alongside conventional energy but the community has built a thermo heating system producing biomass energy to produce heat for the public buildings including railway station, swimming pools and lift stations. These facilities save about a third of their power needs.
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.
Being located in Tirol, all electricity used is renewably sourced. During the night, green electricity is used to bring up the heating storage devices to a temperature of 630 ° C. This heat is then gradually provided to the village’s buildings during the following day, so that no fossil fuel needs to be burned and no waste is produced. A ski bus runs every nine minutes within Sölden and the neighbouring villages, meaning an enormous reduction in traffic. All the guests can use the bus free of charge.
A huge solar power facility means Werfenweng is virtually self-sufficient in green energy. 260 households are powered by the system. Werfenweng endeavours to offer its guests as climate-neutral holidays as possible. This includes the option for them to hand over their car keys on arrival (or train ticket if arriving by train) and use one of 100 or so electric vehicles available to borrow in the resort’s ‘soft mobility’ initiative.
Grouse Mountain, BC
The wind turbine atop Grouse Mountain created BC’s first viable, wind energy solution and is the world’s first wind generator with a viewPOD and it offsets up to 25% of the resort’s power consumption per year. Installed from 2008 to 2010 it is a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine of Leitwind LTW77-1500 type with 65 metres hub height and 76.8 metres rotor diameter at the peak of the resort. The centre has many other initiative to fight climate change including all of its alpine and snow removal fleets operating on biodiesel, reducing carbon emissions from the applicable vehicles by 70%.
Sun Peaks, BC
Sun Peaks has made a strong commitment to all aspects of protecting the local environment and taking measures to combat climate change. An early adopter of the ISO 14001 global environmental management system, it uses 100% hydro electric power but also works to reduce energy consumption, with largely gravity-fed snowmaking systems among many other initiatives, and is examining opportunities to generate electricity on site with a micro-hydro system.
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.
Finland’s first carbon neutral ski resort, since 2009 Pyhä has been running on hydropower and been heated with biomass. The lighting technologies of the slopes as well as buildings have been improved to save electricity and as snowmaking requires a lot of water and energy the centre has reduced the need for artificial snowmaking by building snow fences that naturally collect snow on the fell. By improving the energy-efficiency of our snowmobiles, the carbon emissions of the maintenance of slopes, which are carbon offset, have been cut in half.
Ruka is a carbon neutral ski resort. The use of emission-free hydroelectric power was introduced in 2009, and the resort also uses wind power too. Most of the buildings at Ruka ski resort are heated by biomass heat from wood chips and rest of the buildings are mainly heated with geothermal heat.
The only car-free resort in France since its inception more than 50 years ago, Avoriaz is ISO 14001 environmental management certified and was a 2014 winner of ‘The Most Innovative Resort For Sustainable Development’. Among many initiatives a dual-energy wood/electricity central heating plant which powers a heating network supplying the 11 holiday residences with heating and domestic hot water and the Aquariaz water park. Situated at an altitude of 1,820 metres, the wood-pellet-fired boiler has an output of 2,000 kW. Wood fuel storage on site gives the installation a minimum self-sufficiency of 10 days at full power. The technical and environmental solution provided by DALKIA France is innovative in several respects, including the use of hot water storage in tanks inside the heating plant to optimise the installation’s operation by reducing the use of the back-up energy supply.
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.
In order to develop renewable energies while protecting the environment, the village built 6 hydroelectric power stations fed by glacial lakes in altitude. This local power supply reaches 3870 kW, a sizable part of the village with 5000 inhabitants electricity needs per year. Before building of the micro-hydro power stations, hydrological surveys, environmental and economic impact assessments were made to ensure the protection of the environment which led to actions including the digging of a buffer basin, soundproofing of the turbine building and level control of the river. The remaining energy is also hydro-electric bought in from EDF (France electricity). There are also 10 geothermal-heated pumps in the village.
La Plagne and the Paradiski region has been using 100% renewable energy to power its ski lifts and other electrical needs since 2012. This is certified by the European label, TÜV-SUD (www.tuev-sued.de), which ensures that the strictest standards set to date for 100% renewable energy: hydroelectricity, wind power, and solar power. To reduce CO² emissions further, Paradiski’s lift companies are also AlpEnergie 100 certified, receiving all electricity through the power company, ENALP, which specialises in distributing renewable energies. Since 2008, all of the ski area’s lift companies have been Safety, Quality, and Environmental (SQE) certified to the international ISO 9001 (Quality), OHASA 18001 (Safety), and ISO 14001 (Environmental) standards. Paradiski is one of the easiest resorts in the world to reach by electric-powered railway, generally regarded as the lowest CO2 producing means of reaching ski resorts. For British visitors the Eurostar departs from St Pancras and takes you straight Aime la Plagne. If you do decide to drive la Plagne offer discounts for carloads of three people or more.
Since the conception of La Tania, all the ecological and environmental aspects have been integrated into the urban planning of the resort. The resort is entirely pedestrianised and the car parks are all situated on the peripheries. The local commune of La Perrière is supplied by electricity produced by local hydro electrical power and La Tania was one of the first French resorts to offer a green energy 100% guaranteed as from renewable sources. And to further limit the energy consumed, the buildings are all fitted with very effective insulation.
Les Arcs and the Paradiski region has been using 100% renewable energy to power its ski lifts and other electrical needs since 2012. This is certified by the European label, TÜV-SUD (www.tuev-sued.de), which ensures that the strictest standards set to date for 100% renewable energy: hydroelectricity, wind power, and solar power. To reduce CO² emissions further, Paradiski’s lift companies are also AlpEnergie 100 certified, receiving all electricity through the power company, ENALP, which specialises in distributing renewable energies. Since 2008, all of the ski area’s lift companies have been Safety, Quality, and Environmental (SQE) certified to the international ISO 9001 (Quality), OHASA 18001 (Safety), and ISO 14001 (Environmental) standards. Paradiski is one of the easiest resorts in the world to reach by electric-powered railway, generally regarded as the lowest CO2 producing means of reaching ski resorts. For British visitors the Eurostar departs from St Pancras and takes you straight to Bourg St Maurice rail station below Les arcs. From here a funicular railway, renewed for the 2019-2020 season, takes you up to Les Arcs’ altitude resorts.
One of the leading resorts fighting climate change with many initiatives. These include replacing diesel generators on ski lifts with solar panels, recuperating kinetic energy from chairlifts, using bio-degradable diesel in groomers and installing a a bio-mass heating system to heat 12 municipal buildings back in 2000.
Les Sybelles is one of the world’s biggest ski areas (4th biggest in France) with more than 300km of slopes, nearly 150 runs and 70 ski lifts inter-connecting half-a-dozen resorts in the Maurienne region. Since winter 2019-20 the region receives 100% renewable electricity from local hydro-electric centres, as well as solar and wind power sources, for all lifts, snowmaking and other operations.
Serre Chevalier Vallée, one of the few ski resorts with Green Globe certification, 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 over 1400 solar panels, some of which were designed in Serre Chevalier, and micro-wind turbines with two wind turbines. 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.
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.
Madesimo’s power comes from hydro-electricy power stations in the local valley where there are three hydro-power dams. There is a communal green heating system “teleriscaldamento” that was established in 2007. In addition Larici, one of the largeer mountain restaurants, has installed a new solar cell power generator, and solar panels to heat water. More and more buildings in Madesimo are using solar panels systems.
Italian ski centre Pejo, a ski and thermal spa resort in Trentino’s Stelvio National Park, is claiming to be the first in the world to ban the use of single use plastics. That means no plastic cutlery, plates, straws, glasses, bottles or even sachets of ketchup are permitted in the valley.
The move came after experts from Milan’s State University along with the Milan Bicocca organisation studied the air in the valley and discovered between 131 and 162 million plastic particles in the area’s Forni glacier. Skiers who being single use plastic items with them are being asked to take it away with them or dispose of it at recycling centres in the resort rather than leaving it on the mountain.
Pejo already had strong eco-credentials with homes, hotels and public buildings in the valley heated by a communal wood chip heating system, fed with left-over timber from local forestry operations.
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.”
In March 2016, Geilo received the label for Sustainable Travel Destination, one of the first destinations to receive this quality mark for destinations in Norway based on a destination’s ability to sustainably operate and develop. 100% hydro electric powered and accessible by one of Europe’s lowest CO2 rail networks, Geilo has a wide-ranging action plan to help the fight against climate change.
Like most ski resorts in Norway, Hemsedal’s power supply is hydro-electric. In addition they use a bio-mass heating system to heat the water in new buildings, and they also recycle waste heat in some buildings. The resort keeps a strict track of the carbon emissions resulting from their operations and works on long term ways to be able to reduce them. Hemsedal has a combined policy on recycling, alternative heating systems (including bio-mass) and insulation specifications to reduce the need for excess heating power consumption. In addition stringent insulation specifications in new buildings reduce heating power consumption.
A charging station in central Hovden has no less than 12 Tesla charging points (Superchargers) in addition to 6 rapid charging points and 6 type-2 points from the green energy supplier Fortum. Hovden is located in Norway’s Setesdal region, is the largest ski destination in the southern part of Norway and one that has completely committed to green electric power, including for transportation. There has been hydro power here since 1900 with the latest plant completed as recently as 2014. The Skarg Power Station uses the water from the Sarvsfossen waterfall which in an average year produces 2710 million kWh of green energy; representing 2 percent of the total hydropower production in Norway.
Oslo Vinterpark uses 100% green energy, directly supplied. Despite extending the amount of plant that it uses in an upgrade program to add state-of-the-art lifts and additional snowmaking, the centre has reduced its power consumption, thanks to using increasingly efficient equipment. A heat exchange system operating from one of the resort’s lifts uses waste heat generated by the working machinery (to heat the workshop of resort staff working on piste maintenance).
The Lecht Ski Centre in the Cairngorms National Park began to generate its own power after installing a 43.4m high 150kw wind turbine in 2011. The turbine provides enough power to cover the energy needs of the centre’s SnowFactory machine which can make snow in all temperatures, making The Lecht self-sufficient in snowmaking over the area the machine is able to cover.
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.
Adelboden produces its own green energy under the brand name: “naturemade star“. The community run venture has been operating for more than a century. The resort also has a bio-mass heating system for the community, burning woodchips to heat most buildings.
One of the mountain cable car companies also participates in auditing ecological initiatives.
Arosa Lenzerheide has been keeping a check on every aspect of its environmental impact for many years and even offered its guests the chancce to check and offset the environmental impact of their individual visit at one time. Almost 100% hydro electric powered there are very many local initatives including several lifts with intehrated solar powers to provide the energy they need, slow running lifts to save energy when demand is low, recycling heat from lift machinery and many more ideas.
In 2001 Davos became the first ski resort to be officially awarded the Energiestadt [energy town] label by the Swiss Federal Department for Energy. As an energy town, Davos promises to operate a sustainable and results-orientated energy policy. Among the initiatives Davos has numerous photovoltaic systems, most recently reported as covering 884m² including 550m² producing approximately 72000 kWh per year. 60 other solar thermal systems complete the offer by producing approximately 820,000 kWh. The resort plans to meet most of its hot water needs through solar water-heating systems. The community also has a biogas plant generating a further 200,000 kilowatt-hours of power. Against these efforts the huge World Economic Forum staged here each does mean hundreds of private jets filled with presidents, kings, billionaires and the like fly in each January, but the numbers are reportedly decreasing.
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.
In 2011 the little Swiss village of Tenna made history when they unveiled the first drag lift that was self powered by solar energy, using a chain of 82 ‘solar wings’ each with three panels suspended above much of the length of the 450 metre long lift. The panels can generate around
100,000 kWh per year , about 15 times more energy than the 6,500 kWh the lift needs to operate through the ski season.
The City of Aspen has a heavy carbon footprint as its popularity with the super-rich means large numbers of private jets fly in to the local airport. Against that the Aspen Skiing company which runs the ski slopes has for many years been one of the world’s leading and loudest campaigners against climate change and it generates 24 million kilowatt hours of energy a year — enough to provide all the energy needed to run all the resort’s infrastructure and 2,400 homes on top. Much of this green energy is created through a partnership with Holy Cross Energy, and Vessels Coal Gas in a $5.5 million investment to capture waste methane vented from a local coal mine to generate carbon negative electricity.
Berkshire East, Massachusetts
Powered by a 500 kWh solar facility and a 900 kWh wind turbine, Berkshire East is one of the few ski area in the world to generate 100% of their electricity onsite. The 277ft high turbine was built in 2010 and the solar field contains 1800 panels in groups of 24 on a solar tracker which produce 35%-45% more electricity than a fixed panel.
Boreal Mountain, California
Part of the Powdr group of resorts, which reports it has cut its carbon footprint by 49% group-wide since embarking on it’s campaign to fight climate change, Boreal Mountain operates the largest in-resort solar farm in California with 715 panels on the roof of its Woodward indoor freestyle facility. This generates 235,000 kilowatt hours of solar power annually which covers all of Woodward’s needs plus 65% of the rest base area’s requirements and 15% of the area’s total power needs and annually offsets 250 tons of carbon emissions.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
After many years of environmental commitment with many initiatives that saw a reduction in CO2 emissions, in September 2019 Jackson Hole switched to 100% wind-generated electricity, for its year round operations. The resort has signed up to Lower Valley Energy’s (LVE) 100% Green Power program, sourcing wind power from Horse Butte Wind Farm in neighbouring Idaho; the closest wind energy source directly tied to Lower Valley’s grid. The energy used powers all of Jackson Hole’s on- mountain lifts, facilities, and base area operations.
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.
Lee Canyon, Nevada
Lee Canyon runs completely on solar energy for 12 hours a day during the winter months, keeping 428,072 pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere annually. The area, which first installed solar panels in 2011, runs entirely on solar power during the summer. Unusually the centre is completely off the electrical grid so has no back up mains electricity supply, it therefore charges up a bank of 144 car batteries during the day to ensure it has electricity at night.
Mt Abram, Maine
Mt Abram Ski Area has derived 100% of its energy from renewable sources since 2015. An on-site 803 panel, photovoltaic solar array created 290 MWh for 2015 after it was installed in 2014, approximately 80% of total usage. As of February 2019 the system has generated over 1,150 MWh.
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 households in the area too.
Whiteface, New York State
Since 2017 Whiteface Mountain have powered their operations with 100% renewable energy. They are also installing a 2.6 megawatt solar plant whilst cutting energy consumption across the resort. The centre uses 15 million kilowatts annually so by switching to 100% renewable energy, they are preventing over 43 million pounds of carbon emissions. Beyond the slopes the resort uses lower CO2 emitting propane as their main heat source while also using infrared heaters in many locations and energy efficient LED lighting.
Wolf Creek, Colorado
Wolf Creek has always been a leader in maintaining sustainable business practices by purchasing renewable energy, using biodegradable oils in machinery and having water free restrooms. In November 2018, after having been purchasing 100% green energy for more than a decade, the resort took a big step and became the first solar powered ski area with its main source of energy coming from the local Penitente Solar Project in the San Luis Valley which it helped to fund. The plant can produce 7,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy per year, of which Wolf Creek requires about 1,000 megawatts.