La Thuile in Italy was the first ski resort in the world to develop a hydroelectric system to generate renewable energy from their artificial snow network.
Electricity fed back into the national grid
In three years, La Thuile has produced more than 4.8 million kWh purely from the force of the water circulating in its network of snow cannons.
The water firing through the system turns two turbines which produce the electricity and which is then fed back into the Italian ‘Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque’ grid.
Snowmaking generates 20% more energy than consumed
The program was started in 2016 and has already paid for the cost of the turbines and development work in savings.
The La Thuile snowmaking system produces on average 20% more energy than it consumes and is therefore able to supply electricity to pumps, compressors, snow cannons and buildings dedicated to the production of artificial snow.
The French group MND, via its SUFAG subsidiary, which markets complete snowmaking solutions, has been supporting Funivie Piccolo San Bernardo – who manage the La Thuile ski area – since the start of this project.
Their technical teams were tasked with upgrading the artificial snow network management software to include functionality for the production of clean energy via hydroelectricity.
Other resorts developing similar programmes
Where La Thuile leads, other resorts are following. Serre Chevalier has already started on a similar program, and Les Arcs are experimenting this season.
You can hear more about Les Arcs’ solar and hydroelectric activity in Episode 49 of The Ski Podcast:
Make a Difference: Ski Flight Free
Other projects that resorts are experimenting with to reduce their carbon footprint include hydrogen-fuelled, hybrid and electric piste bashers as well as electric snowmobiles.
If you want to minimise your own carbon footprint while skiing, then choosing a resort with sustainable policies will help. However, the biggest single way you can make a difference is to choose not to fly and Ski Flight Free.