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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 alsos use wind power to support hydropower. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.