Reducing energy requirements and using renewable energies
Energy efficiency and natural electricity
By increasing energy efficiency, we have set ourselves the goal of reducing CO₂ emissions by 10% over the next 10 years. From 2021 onwards, Arosa Bergbahnen will also source its entire energy requirements from hydropower.
In collaboration with the Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW) (pdf), we have been recording and analysing the entire energy consumption of Arosa Bergbahnen AG and Lenzerheide Bergbahnen AG since autumn 2014. This means that we know every energy consumer, from the motor of the snow groomer to the drive of the chairlift, the refrigerator in the mountain restaurant and every lamp. We know the energy consumption and the condition of each device, and know in total how much energy (electricity, heating oil, fuels or pellets) is consumed where. This is made up as follows: 31% for piste preparation, 23% for railway facilities, 18% for buildings (mountain and valley stations, workshops, offices), 16% for snowmaking and 12% in our mountain restaurants.
In addition, together with EnAW, we have identified opportunities to increase efficiency and defined measures to reduce energy consumption over the next 10 years. A small example:
Electric heaters are installed in various command rooms for the purpose of space heating and frost protection. In the future, we will expand these with timers that switch off the heaters in the evening and operate with frost temperature control at night. This conversion of 50 electric heaters will reduce the annual operating time by 370 hours each, or 18,500 hours in total, and thus lead to a saving of about 40,700 kWh. With the electricity saved, the Obertor chairlift (east-west connection) can be operated for around 127 operating days, i.e. an entire winter season.
We want to increase the energy efficiency of the company by a further 5.9% over the next 10 years and reduce C02 emissions by around 10%. We have anchored these goals in a binding agreement with the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. Progress will be reviewed annually.
From 2021, the Arosa Bergbahnen AG will cover their entire energy requirements with renewable energy from hydropower, which will be generated from the Schanfigger hydropower plants of arosaenergie. The hydropower supplies an annual energy volume of around 5'500'00 kWh to the Arosa Bergbahnen AG.
PistenBully 600 E+
The cleanest and quietest vehicle in the snow.
Just in time for the start of the winter season 2020/21, we could take delivery of our first «green snow groomer». This makes us one of three Swiss snow sports resorts to set another milestone in sustainable slope preparation with the use of a «PistenBully 600 E+» from Kässbohrer. We already had a first test vehicle in use in the 2019/20 winter season. According to the manufacturer, the «PistenBully 600 E+» is the cleanest and simultaneously the quietest vehicle in the snow. With its diesel-electric drive, the green PistenBully promises the lowest emissions, thanks to the massively reduced diesel consumption. We are convinced that this will further reduce CO2 consumption and thus contribute to a snow sports operation that is as CO2 neutral as possible.
The new «PistenBully 600 E+» is based on the «PistenBully 600 Polar», which we already have in operation. With its Cummins X12 and diesel particulate filter, the «PistenBully 600 Polar» was the first snow groomer to meet the requirements of EU emission level V as early as 2018. The constant operation of the diesel engine in the optimum speed range now makes the new «PistenBully 600 E+» even more efficient, economical and 20% quieter than the «PistenBully 600 Polar».
When driving uphill, the engine drives the generator and the hydraulic pumps via the transfer case, resulting in 16% more thrust on the mountain. The intelligent energy management ensures that during descent the electric motor supports the transfer case and the hydraulic pumps as a generator and thus relieves the diesel engine. The «PistenBully 600 E+» can thus operate at full power with a very low diesel engine speed and thus significantly reduce diesel consumption, resulting in up to 20% lower NOX and CO₂ emissions.
With a durable and low-maintenance diesel-electric drive, the «PistenBully 600 E+» provides enormous thrust – even in the lower speed range and with up to 20% less fuel consumption for significant savings in operating expenses.
To achieve the savings predicted by the manufacturer, special driving skills, sensitivity and prudent slope preparation are required. After all, the driver has a decisive influence on diesel consumption. He sets the desired driving speed with the accelerator pedal. The intelligent vehicle control system calculates the best possible operating point from this, depending on the slope gradient, travel speed and milling power, at which the diesel engine provides the required power in a way that optimizes consumption. This means that the machine is always operated at the lowest possible speed with high capacity utilization. In the future, slope preparation will thus be even more demanding than it already is.
Since we constantly document the diesel consumption of our snow groomers, we can analyse the actual consumption and compare it with conventional snow groomers. At the end of the season we will be able to determine how much diesel we have been able to save with the «Green PistenBully». If our results match those of the manufacturer, we will replace existing snow groomers with the «PistenBully 600 E+» where possible and sensible.
Building services control system
We were one of the first lift companies in Switzerland to introduce a sophisticated building management system in our mountain restaurants, lift stations, operating and administrative buildings. This was done to ensure optimal operation in terms of energy. We introduced the system in 2009, and since then, it has been continuously expanded and optimized.
Restaurants, lift stations and operational buildings are integrated into the system and can be centrally controlled, managed and monitored. This optimizes heating, ventilation, lighting and kitchen infrastructure, among other things. A complete system was developed that evaluates weather data, monitors the pellet supply, supports the process in the catering business, and optimally controls and regulates the respective energy consumption.
The data from the connected buildings is recorded, continuously evaluated, analysed and measures for more sustainable energy consumption are planned. The analysis of the recorded data allows us to efficiently implement the energy management by continuously optimising the settings. Below you will find some examples.
A functioning and individual control system offers the potential to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings included in the system by 10 to 20 percent. This can only be achieved if the data is regularly evaluated and the settings are optimized. The success of the system, the possible energy saving potential, lies in the active adaptation to the prevailing, individual conditions. That is our goal, that is what we are working on. Every day.
High energy-saving potentials are offered above all by ventilation and heating control, as well as lighting control, which play a central role in the piping system. Exciting projects have already been realised to optimise energy consumption.
- Our system already acts the evening before: If good weather is forecast for the next day with 80% certainty, the heating output in the Scharmoin mountain restaurant, for example, is automatically reduced.
- In the Scharmoin restaurant, the heating and ventilation control systems work together: The temperatures of the individual rooms are regulated individually based on the current position of the sun (weather), the air quality and room temperature. The aim of this control is never to produce more heat than is actually necessary.
- We control the heating in the less accessible mountain restaurants in the valley. All electric heaters and gutter heaters are controlled according to demand based on the outside temperature. This means, for example, that the heaters are turned down at night or in the non-operating mid-season. On cold days, heating is minimal to avoid frost. At plus temperatures, the heating switches off automatically.
An intelligent lighting control system was installed in the Scharmoin mountain restaurant and in the corridors of the Canols administration building. This operates on the basis of the parameters "presence", "light intensity" and "time". The light intensity of the rooms is determined by the current position of the sun. Basic values for brightness are defined in the control system. When the lamps are switched on, the system regulates the light intensity according to the defined values. The light switches off automatically at fixed times - but only when staff are absent.
The pellet heating system in the Scharmoin mountain restaurant was equipped with a control system for optimal energy measurement, heat distribution and individual room control.
The energy measuring valve from Belimo measures the required energy at the heating beam. This value is passed on to the pellet heating system. This means that only as much energy is generated as is currently being consumed. This in turn has a positive effect on the duty cycle of the pellet heating system. We achieve longer burning times and avoid inefficient start-up and uncontrolled burn-out. In addition, the valve continuously measures the consumption. So it is easy to make an exact statement about the energy consumption at the end of the heating period.
The entire heating beam in the Scharmoin restaurant is controlled and regulated via the building management system. All relevant parameters such as outside temperature, weather forecast, position of the sun, as well as the expected heat production (e.g. people, computers) are taken into account for the individual room control. The difference between the set temperature and the actual temperature is normally one to two tenths of a degree. This is absolutely necessary for a comfortable climate.
All cooling systems used by LBB AG are equipped with temperature sensors. Changes in temperature can be recorded for all cooling cells. This makes it possible to monitor the quality of cooling as well as the defrosting times.
«Das isch Arosa Lenzerheide»
Episode 2 of our video series «Das isch Arosa Lenzerheide», contains interesting information from Sami Lorez, Head of Technology at Lenzerheide Bergbahnen about the building services control system and the photovoltaic plants. For example, did you know that the heat output in Scharmoin is automatically reduced if the weather forecast is good? Or that the solar plants at the Motta and Urdenfürggli chairlifts produce enough energy to supply 16 single-family households for one year?
GPS-controlled snow depth management
Lenzerheide was the first ski area in Switzerland to introduce a GPS-controlled system to measure snow depth several years ago.
A few years ago, Arosa Lenzerheide was the first snow sports region in Switzerland to introduce a GPS-controlled snow depth measurement system. This enables us to achieve maximum energy efficiency in preparing the pistes as well as a reduction in water consumption for snowmaking.
To build the snow depth measurement system, all slopes were surveyed exactly with a 3D laser scanner in summer. The snow groomers equipped with GPS compare their current position to the summer reference measurement in order to calculate the exact depth of the snow. This system enables the snow groomer drivers to distribute the snow much more efficiently and precisely across the slopes. This saves diesel when preparing the slopes.
At the same time, the snow-making crew always knows how much snow is lying where, and where additional snow is needed. This optimised snow-making method has considerably reduced our use of water, diesel and electricity. And our guests are also happy: the new system means that slope quality has improved further.
«Das isch Arosa Lenzerheide»
In the 4th episode of «Das isch Arosa Lenzerheide», we join Reto Infanger and his team when they make snow and prepare the slopes at the beginning of the winter season. He explains what an optimal slope looks like, what the tasks of a snow-maker in the snow-sport region are, and why the slopes have to be prepared every day. The GPS-controlled snow depth measurement system is an important tool for Reto Infanger and his team. This enables efficient and sustainable slope preparation in the Arosa Lenzerheide snow-sport region.
It's not just our guests who recharge their batteries with solar energy. The first photovoltaic system in the Arosa Lenzerheide ski area was installed on the Rothorn summit back in 1995. This was an early demonstration of our pioneering spirit in the field of renewable energy. When the two chairlifts Motta and Urdenfürggli were newly built in 2013, these stations were also equipped with highly efficient photovoltaic systems. In addition, the roof of the Lavoz mountain restaurant was fitted with solar modules in summer 2021 and the roof of the Pedra Grossa chairlift valley station in summer 2022.
The five solar installations have a total output of over 500 kWp. This electricity, sustainably produced by solar energy, is fed directly into the power grid. The energy generated is sufficient, for example, to operate the Stätzerhorn and Täli chairlifts throughout the winter. Or to cover the total consumption of the Scharmoin, Mottahütte and Alp Stätz mountain restaurants.