The outdoor industry needs more sustainable practices to keep people outside and doing what they love. Ski resorts worldwide need new ways to preserve the industry’s profitability. Lifts and gondolas are pricey in terms of their upkeep and keeping them running, not to mention the increasing cost of man-made snow, as many resorts have seen just this season.
- Related: How to Be a More Sustainable Skier
This idea has fueled a new start-up out of Austria; BergWind‘s idea for wind turbines intended to power ski resorts. According to Snow Industry News, the company’s goal is to create modular wind turbines that will be attached to gondolas and lifts to power things such as snow-making or to power the resort’s facilities by much more sustainable means. According to them, it is a much more profitable method to run a resort, considering lifts are typically only utilized during a small window of the year but have to be maintained all year round.
The turbines are intended to be attached to ski lifts or gondola cables when they aren’t in use. According to BergWind’s Kickstarter site, the idea is that gondola cars can be easily detached from the cables when they are not being used and can be replaced with small wind turbines. Not only would this idea increase the number of resorts utilizing sustainable practices, but it would also be a much more profitable and cost-effective way to expand the use of wind energy. The cost of production and installation of typical wind turbines in mountainous areas is extensive, but the BergWind turbines are intended to be just as easy to install and operate as a regular gondola car.
Ski resorts have faced a significant amount of backlash recently due to the increasing demand for man-made snow being a particularly costly process in terms of energy and resource usage. But, utilizing wind energy, which constantly surrounds the machinery used by resort staff, they will not only be able to operate the mountain in a more environmentally conscious and sustainable way and, in turn, increase the resort’s profitability—all thanks to the wind.
One thought on “Can the Wind Power Our Ski Resorts?”
Wind & weather would obviously be a major determining factor, but also cost vs return, length of season, location & construction logistics, etc. The environmental benefit would vary largely depending on what current method of electrical production is in place (ie: hydro? nuclear? coal?).
Could see it making sense for a very very small percentage of ski areas. Some others may decide to do it as more of a marketing ploy than anything. Interesting to look into.