It is no secret that the operation of cable cars and snowmaking systems is only possible with a high level of energy. Especially in times of climate change, it is important to address this issue. Bergbahnen See is aware of their environmental responsibility and therefore relies on clean green electricity. How does this work? Quite simply: Bergbahnen See produces its own electricity.
Yep, you heard right! The cable cars and snow machines in See are designed in such a way that they can produce clean green energy when they aren’t producing snow. In the end, four times as much energy is generated than used! The Bergbahnen See guarantees not only the best snow on the slopes down into the valley, but also sets an example for how to treat the environment.
Bergbahnen See cable car association annual energy consumption
All these forms of energy used result in a total consumption of about 230,000 litres of fuel oil and an output of about 550 tonnes of CO2. But with the help of the hydropower plants, 11 gigawatt hours of electricity are generated annually in return. This equates to an energy value of roughly 910,000 litres of heating oil and 2,200 tonnes of CO2. When you subtract the annual energy consumption from the total, this results in a positive balance of 680,000 litres of fuel oil!
“At one with nature.” Greenhouse gases in the ski resort are handled with the Bergbahnen See cable car association motto in mind. After all, the generation of energy with hydropower does not produce any carbon dioxide. As a result, Bergbahnen See saves the environment about 1,650 tonnes of CO2 per year whilst offering holidaymakers guaranteed snow on the pistes, even when natural snow is low.
Bergbahnen See Ges.m.b.H. opted to construct snow-making facilities which also could be used to produce energy. The entire facilities were ready to go into operation from the middle of December 2009 and, when the available water is not required for snow-making purposes, can be used to generate electrical energy using hydropower.
The central element consists of three engine buildings and three water catchments. The water from the two higher lying water catchments (Schallerbach – 1940m above sea level and Istalanzbach 1 – 1965m above sea level) are brought together in the newly built pump station near the valley station for the Zeinisbahn and whenever they are needed to make snow are directed to the snow-making machinery in the ski area via four high pressure pumps.
The upper station of the engine building (near Istalanzbach ski bridge at 1661m above sea level) has a dual function. The water fed in via the two high pressure pumps can be transported to the pumping station via the water catchment which has recently been set up there (Istalanzbach 2); this is then transported on from there to the snow-making facilities in the ski area. By contrast, in the power plant operation, the water from both the Schallerbach and Istalanzbach catchments is used to generate electrical energy in the upper station.
This processed, depressurised water is brought together in a water chamber beneath the upper station of the engine building with the water from the Istalanzbach 2 catchment and guided to the lower station of the engine building, where all the water is then transformed into electrical energy via hydroelectric generating sets. In the lower station there is also a 160 KW air compressor which generates the requisite pressurised air for the snow-making lances. The cables between the pump station and the lower station are used, depending on the operating mode, as pipelines to the power plant or to the snow-making facilities, for the valley run. The 67 snow-making sites on the valley run can, for the most part, operate via inherent pressure.
The whole facility fundamentally consists of the following components: