San Martino di Castrozza is one of the ‘greenest’ ski resorts in the world, 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…
A new green bio-mass communal green heating system used by virtually every property in the resort.
Free charging points for guests arriving in electric or hybrid vehicles to top up with green power at no cost.
Exports 10 times as much green energy as it produces from its 7 hydro plants back to the grid.
All ski resort lifts and other power needs met by green energy.
Overall a green ethos throughout the resort and wide region.
The region calls its green initiatives ‘SMart’ (clever eh?) and ‘Green Way Primiero’ as they do not just cover San Martino, but also the village of Primiero where many of the locals live, along with another village, Vanoi, and the nearby high altitude Passo Rolle ski area, famous for being snow-sure in to May.
Hydro Electric Power
Located in the heart of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park, the 23 ski lifts and other machinery of the San Martino and Passo Rolle ski areas are 100% powered by green hydro-electricity and always have been. Today there are seven individual hydro electric plants in the region.
There are in fact seven publically-owned hydroelectric plants in the region that produce more than 10 times as much energy as the local community of 10,000 people needs, so the rest is exported to the grid, reducing the need for the use of carbon-based fuels and thus contribution to cuts in CO2 emissions far beyond its own borders.
The numbers are fairly staggering. For example 145MW of green energy are produced each year, enough for 150,000 families. That’s the equivalent of 88 thousand tonnes of petrol saved each year and as result 270 thousand tonnes less CO2 don’t end up being emitted in to the air that otherwise would be.
The latest big green energy initiative in the region has seen the construction of two biomass heating plants. The first one in San Martino di Castrozza opened in 2001, the second in Primiero opened in 2008 and is five times larger and the network was only completed in 2014. Each station connects hundreds of homes, hotels and other businesses to their two 45 kilometre networks. In fact 98% of all properties are connected as it makes economic sense as well as ‘green’ sense for the locals to join on. The 2% that haven’t joined yet are occasionally used holiday homes apparently.
Burying all the pipework for the system was a huge capital project, but now it’s up and running the advantages are numerous.
In fact there are practical as well as financial advantages, some of which you might not think of. For example the electric cables carrying the hydro electricity were buried in most cases where the pipes went in, so there are no ugly pylons any more and no danger of heavy snowfall bringing down power cables. No oil tankers blocking the roads up to the resort either.
Charge Your Car Up For Free, And Yourself
In a nice marketing move, San Martino and Passo Rolle have so much hydro-electricity to spare they offer the chance to charge up your electric or hybrid car free of charge, wilt you recharge your own mental and spiritual batteries out in their stunning mountain scenery.
“During the long days spent on the slopes, while your spirit and body are regenerated, your car is charging too… for free and without creating pollution,” a resort spokesperson told me
Electric Car Charging
Whilst the more pioneering ski areas shout about installing an electric car charging point, the San Martino region already has no less than 16 public charging points available and they can be used free of charge as an added incentive to ski holiday green.
The resort also operate their own fleet of electric vehicles:
Green Ethos Throughout The Community
‘Green Way Primiero’ is much more than a regional marketing initiative, the concept is deeply embedded in community thinking regardless of tourism concerns. Virtually all businesses and private home owners are on board and making their own individual green initiatives whilst joining in the community effort.
Rates of recycling waste in the area are amongst the highest anywhere for example with 81.7% of waste sorted for recycling across the entire area.
The green energy power stations (both biomass and hydro) now employ more than 50 people in the region helping to keep revenue generated locally in the area and give local people work.
The significance of the regions efforts on the environment have been recognised by the Italian eco-organisation Legambiente which has certified the area as being 100% green energy powered. Legambiente also presented the area as a candidate in the green tourism destinations ‘Champions League’ in a contest organised in Brussels. It came away with a special award for their honest and enthusiastic contribution to the new sustainable revolution.