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Cable cars and energy - facts and myths

Austria is a winter sports nation. In addition to the sporting successes of the stars of the Austrian Ski Federation (ÖSV), this becomes particularly clear when you take a closer look at the economic data. Winter sports enthusiasts alone generate annual gross sales of 11.2 billion euros in Austria. As a result, jobs can be secured and, above all, billions in tax revenue can be generated for the state budget. This alone shows the importance of winter tourism for Austria. It could therefore be assumed that winter sports would be held in high esteem by politicians and the media.

But exactly the opposite has been the case in recent years: It is exciting to observe how almost exclusively negative headlines cast winter tourism in Austria in a bad light. Starting with the first official Covid-19 cases in Austria in Ischgl, the ski instructor Covid-19 cluster in Jochberg, summer glacier skiing in Hintertux, the rise in price of lift tickets and the current debate, the energy crisis. For sure not everything was good, but there were certainly many positive aspects that went unmentioned.

In the industry, you almost have the feeling that one media low follows the next and that you are constantly in the spotlight. But is everything really as bad as it has been portrayed in recent years? Probably not! What is clear, is that winter sports is emotionally charged and polarize society. This is precisely why it is important not to be influenced by headlines, but to look at the data and facts soberly. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce has accordingly dealt with the topic of the current energy crisis and is trying to provide educational work. In this way, the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead should not be downplayed, but only an attempt should be made to paint a holistic picture in order to face them with openness and not to weaken winter tourism disproportionately through populist negative image campaigns, with unforeseeable consequences.

Cable cars and energy

Cable cars and skiing provide the core infrastructure for alpine winter tourism and thus ensure the existence of thousands of companies, their employees and families. Energy optimization measures have been worked on and successfully implemented for years.


The power requirement of all cable cars in Austria is 750 GWh (= 1.2% of the total domestic energy requirement) including technical snowmaking. To get a sense of the scale: more than 800 GWh per year are wasted in Austria just by standby losses of electrical appliances.

The total energy consumption per skier and day (for cable cars, snowmaking, slope preparation, gastronomy, heating and infrastructure) is 18.0 kWh.

Comparison ski area - indoor pool:

Around 525,000 kWh per winter are needed to technically snow a ski area with 30 hectares of slopes. A municipal indoor swimming pool has a requirement of approx. 750,000 kWh per year.

More comparisons:

  • If you drive a modern mid-range car (7 l per 100 km) from Vösendorf to Baden with a distance of 26 km and a driving time of about 23 minutes, this corresponds to a whole day of skiing.

  • If a person flies from Vienna to Palma de Mallorca, this person could go skiing in Austria for 30 days for the same amount of energy.

  • If a person flies 8,906 km from Vienna to the Caribbean, for the same amount of energy they could go skiing in Austria for 105 days and take the gondola every day from July to September for hikes in the mountains.

  • If a person travels 7,780 km on a medium-sized modern cruise ship from Hamburg to New York, this person could go skiing in Austria for 351 days for the same amount of energy.


  • Winter sports enthusiasts using cable cars generate gross sales of around €11.2 billion annually (cable cars, accommodation, gastronomy, sports retail, etc.).

  • The value-added multiplier is 8.3, which means €1,000 in wages, salaries, profits and depreciation for cable cars bring income of €8,300 for the region.

  • The Republic of Austria benefits from an annual sales tax revenue of over €1 billion.

Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG:

Energy production and energy use will continue to provide a lot of topics for discussion in the future. The way to the use of renewable energies is likely to become the defining issue of our society in the coming years. It is important to develop solutions across all sectors in order to maintain prosperity and jobs.

The example of Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG shows that the energy problem for winter sports resorts is not new. How they deal with it can be read in the following article:


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