For many years, the sustainability of winter sports areas has been a central topic that has reached the society. Due to the Ukraine conflict and the associated energy crises in Europe, winter sports areas are once again in the focus of the media and have to face new challenges. The example of the Kitzsteinhorn shows how economy and nature can be reconciled, and also how it will be possible in the future to generate the required energy using the own resources.
The company "Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG" has relied on sustainable energy generation for years. With its own photovoltaic systems on company buildings and a combined pump and hydroelectric power plant that generates energy from melt water, a large part of the energy required for snowmaking systems in winter and electricity in summer is already generated in-house. A third turbine should now make it even more efficient.
Electricity in summer, snow in winter
The first stage of expansion of the combined pump and hydroelectric power station with two turbines was put into operation back in 2012 – with immediate effect, a third turbine provides electricity in summer and snow in winter. Because the special feature of this self-directed energy production: if you pull the lever in autumn, water is pumped through the pipes from the large high-mountain reservoirs "Mooserboden" and "Wasserfallboden" directly into the snow-making systems on the Kitzsteinhorn. In the high alpine area of the Kitzsteinhorn, no additional storage ponds have to be created for snowmaking. In the spring, the meltwater from a large catchment area is collected in the "Langwied" catchment basin and continuously fed to the power plant via a 2 km long pipeline and 460 vertical meters. There, the three turbines convert 300 liters of water per second into electricity.
1.2 million kWh of electricity
For CEO Norbert Karlsböck, this is another milestone on the "green path" towards sustainability: "By strengthening the hydroelectric power plant with the third turbine, we can now generate a third of the electricity required for snowmaking ourselves - a very positive contribution to the energy balance. With just two turbines, we were able to generate 900,000 kWh per year - with the third turbine in use, we generate 1.2 million kWh of annual energy," says Karlsböck.
Snowmaking and the operation of a ski area require electricity, which has been provided by the electricity supplier from renewable energy for many years. The Kitzsteinhorn continues to work on decarbonization through its own electricity production, numerous energy efficiency measures, the use of e-buses in local ski bus transport and investments in more efficient snow-making systems. The 700,000 euros that have now been invested in the machine set for the third turbine are also an important milestone in sustainable action on the Kitzsteinhorn.
We, the Snowsports Academy, are proud to be partner of the "Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG" and will follow future developments with excitement.
More information on sustainability on the Kitzsteinhorn: https://www.kitzsteinhorn.at/en/service/backstage/responsibility