Snowmaking system generates electricity: holistic use of existing infrastructures

Snowmaking systems essentially have all the components needed to generate electricity. By installing hydroelectric power plants in machine rooms, TechnoAlpin is offering an innovative approach to the efficient use of existing infrastructures. The year-round use of the system coupled with energy production, courtesy of the in-house power plant, gives operators an economic advantage. There is also an ecological benefit since the water needed for snowmaking is not used but, once the snow melts, is returned to nature thanks to green energy production.

TechnoAlpin launched this type of power plant project in the Swiss ski resort of Davos Jakobshorn between 2013 and 2016. The 2020 analysis shows that: 63% of the energy required for snowmaking was generated by the snowmaking system itself. The investment has paid off in just four years.

Efficient use of turbines and sensible multitasking

In Davos, the existing hydraulic structure of the snowmaking system was used to integrate three turbines totaling 257 kW in the existing pumping stations, namely Ischalp and Bolgen, to generate electricity. Natural resources have been spared thanks to the sole use of existing infrastructures (reservoir, pipework and buildings, etc.). "Excess water from existing drinking water sources can now be used efficiently, even during the summer months," explains Martin Hofer, Area Manager for TechnoAlpin Switzerland. "Consequently, the snowmaking system not only consumes electricity these days but also generates it."

The power plant project puts the existing snowmaking infrastructure to good use outside the winter season. Multitasking avoids any additional construction work and drain on natural resources. "Moreover, turbine maintenance is manageable," emphasizes Hofer. "The Davos solution is so efficient that the investment has paid off in less than four years. There is also the option to use the system in future hydropower storage facilities."

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