Reducing energy requirements and using renewable energies

We are aware that the tourism industry and in particular the cable cars and chairlifts cannot be 100% sustainable, at least not in environmental terms. Nevertheless we are aware of our responsibilities and try our utmost to do the right thing. We therefore reduce our energy requirements whenever possible, use 100% electricity from renewable energies, and use our photovoltaic plants to feed additional solar power into the electricity grid.

Energy efficiency & natural electricity

By increasing energy efficiency, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% over the next 10 years. In 2021, the Arosa mountain railways will also obtain their entire energy requirements from hydropower.

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Kässbohrer PistenBully 600 E+ Hybrid | © Arosa Lenzerheide

Sustainable slope preparation

PistenBully 600 E+

As one of three Swiss snow sports resorts, we could take delivery of our first «PistenBully 600 E+» at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter season. Thanks to its diesel-electric drive, the «PistenBully 600 E+» promises the lowest emissions and massively reduced diesel consumption. This will further reduce our CO2 consumption.

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Modern building services control system

High-tech control for more energy efficiency

With our building services control system located in the valley, we can manage and optimize all heating, ventilation, lighting, kitchen infrastructure and warm water on the mountain. A functioning and individual control system offers the potential to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings integrated into the system by 10 to 20 percent.

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Snow depth management


GPS devices installed in the snow groomers provide us with precise data about current snow depths in the snow-sport region. This helps us to manage our snow-making and slope preparation efficiently while conserving resources.

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Photovoltaic plants

Motta and Urdenfürggli chairlifts

Since winter 2013/14, it is not only our guests who can top up sun energy. We have installed highly efficient photovoltaic plants at the Motta and Urdenfürggli chairlift stations. The electricity generated in this way is fed directly into the power grid. The plants have a maximum output of 60 kilowatts and produce enough solar power to meet the annual requirements of 16 single-family homes.


Automatic speed control

Based on guest numbers

We want to reduce our energy consumption wherever possible. We do this, for example, with automatic speed control for the chairlifts. Sensors measure the number of guests between the turnstiles and the entrance. If guest numbers increase, the chairlift speeds up automatically. If there are fewer guests, the speed is lowered. Ten percent less speed equals 10% less electricity used.


Waste heat from drivetrains

For workshops or command rooms

Whenever possible, the waste heat generated by the cableway drivetrains is used. For example, in the form of passive warm air for the command rooms, or actively with the help of heat pumps. The waste heat generated by the Rothorn 1 cable car is transported by a ventilation system to heat the workshop at the Scharmoin halfway station.


100% renewable energy


By joining the international «I AM PRO SNOW – 100% Committed» campaign, Arosa Lenzerheide has pledged to use 100% of electricity from renewable energies (hydropower and solar). With this commitment, the Arosa Lenzerheide snow-sport region aims to make a joint contribution to protecting the climate and guaranteeing snow in the future. 

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By increasing energy efficiency, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% over the next 10 years. In 2021, the Arosa mountain railways will also obtain their entire energy requirements from hydropower.

Since autumn 2014, we have been measuring and analysing the total energy consumption of Arosa Bergbahnen AG and Lenzerheide Bergbahnen AG in collaboration with the Energie-Agentur der Wirtschaft (EnAW) (pdf). We now know every energy consumer, from the engine of the snow groomer to the chairlift drivetrain, the fridge in the mountain restaurant and every single light. We know the energy consumption and condition of each device, and how much energy in total (electricity, heating oil, fuel and pellets) is being used. This is comprised as follows: 31% for slope preparation, 23% for cableways, 18% for buildings (mountain and valley stations, workshops, offices), 16% for snow-making, and 12% in our mountain restaurants.

Together with EnAW, we have also identified options to enhance efficiency and formulated measures to reduce energy consumption over the next ten years. A small example: Electric heaters are installed in various command rooms to heat the rooms and prevent frost.

In future, we will equip these with time switches, which will switch off the heaters in the evening and work with frost tempering at night. This conversion of 50 electric heaters will reduce the annual operating time by 370 hours each, i.e. 18,500 hours in total, resulting in savings of some 40,700 kWh. The electricity saved in this way can be used to operate the Obertor chairlift (east-west connection) for 127 operating days, i.e. an entire winter season.

We want to improve the company's energy efficiency by a further 5.9% and reduce CO2 emissions by some 10% over the next ten years. We have committed to achieving these objectives in an agreement with the Swiss Office of Energy. Progress is measured every year.

In 2021, the Arosa mountain railways 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 mountain railways.

Kässbohrer PistenBully 600 E+ Hybrid | © Arosa Lenzerheide

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 optimal 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. These reliefs the engine and significantly reduces diesel consumption, resulting in up to 20% lower NOX and CO2 emissions. In addition, 99% fewer soot particles are released into the environment. 

Each snow groomer pulls a snow blower behind it, which chops up the snow compacted by the tracks and smooths it with a rake. Usually, the blower is hydraulically operated, but the «PistenBully 600 E+» uses an electric drive. And since the tiller is always running, right down to the last few metres in the garage, there is always a power-hungry consumer available. By using the recuperated energy, the diesel engine is relieved and diesel consumption is reduced. The actual reduction in consumption is achieved through recuperation. Whenever the «PistenBully 600 E+» drives downhill, the motors on the tracks work as generators and recover energy.  

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 are one of the first cable car and lift companies in Switzerland to have installed a sophisticated building services control system in our mountain restaurants, stations and operation buildings. This ensures optimal operations in terms of energy use. We introduced the system in 2009, and it has been constantly expanded and optimized since.

All restaurants, stations and operation buildings are linked to the system and can be controlled, managed and monitored centrally. Among other things, this optimizes the heating, ventilation, lighting and kitchen infrastructure. A complete system was developed to analyse weather data, monitor oil tanks and cableway operations, support restaurant services and optimally steer and regulate the use of energy.

The data from the linked buildings are recorded, assessed and analysed continuously, and measures for more sustainable energy consumption are planned. The analysis of the recorded data allows us to efficiently implement energy management by constantly optimizing the settings. Here are a few examples.

A functioning and individual control system offers the potential to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings integrated into the system by 10 to 20 percent. This is only possible if the results are regularly analysed and the settings optimized. The success of the system, i.e. the energy savings potential lies in actively adapting it to the prevailing and individual circumstances. This is the objective we are working towards. Every day.

As one of only two tourism projects in Switzerland, we were nominated in the sustainability category for the prestigious Swiss Tourism Milestone Award in 2014. Although not the winner, the nomination was a great honour and sign of recognition of our sustainability efforts.

Regulating ventilation, heating and lighting, which play a central role in the control system, offers a great deal of potential for energy savings. Exciting projects to optimise energy consumption have already been carried out.

  • Our system takes action the evening before: if there is an 80% chance of good weather the next day, the heating output in the Scharmoin mountain restaurant is automatically reduced.
  • Heating and ventilation interact perfectly at the Scharmoin restaurant: individual room temperatures are regulated according to the position of the sun (weather), the quality of the air and the temperature of the room. The objective is to avoid producing more heat than really necessary.

Heating for the Mottahütte, Piz Scalottas, Rothorngipfel and Lavos mountain restaurants, which are difficult to access, is controlled from the valley. All electrical heaters and gutter de-icers are regulated according to the outside temperature. This means that the heating is reduced during the night and the non-operating shoulder seasons. Only minimal heating is used on cold days to prevent frost. When the temperature is above zero, the heating automatically switches off.

A sophisticated system to regulate the lighting was installed at the Scharmoin mountain restaurant. This system works with the factors «presence», «light intensity» and «time». The intensity of the light in the rooms is determined by the position of the sun. Basic values for brightness are defined for the control system. When the lights are switched on, the system regulates their brightness according to the defined values. The lights automatically switch off at specific hours – but only after the staff have left.

The pellet heating system in the Scharmoin mountain restaurant has been equipped with a modern control system setting new standards for energy measurement, heat distribution and individual room control.

An energy valve manufactured by Belimo was installed for the first time in Switzerland at the Scharmoin restaurant to measure the energy needed for the heating bar. This measurement is passed on to the pellet heating system, which produces only as much energy as required at any particular time. This has a positive effect on the switch-on duration of the pellet heating. We achieve longer firing times while avoiding inefficient firing up and uncontrolled burning processes. During the first winter, only a third of the expected pellets were needed to heat the new restaurant. The valve also constantly measures consumption, which makes it easy to prepare precise figures about energy consumption at the end of the heating period.

The entire heating bar at the Scharmoin restaurant is controlled and regulated by the building services control system. All relevant factors such as the outside temperature, weather forecast, room temperature, etc. are considered by the system. Usually, the difference between the target and current temperatures is one- to two-tenths of a degree. This is mandatory for achieving a comfortable temperature.

It is also possible to separately and individually regulate each room at the Scharmoin mountain restaurant. Energy is therefore efficiently generated and used in an exceedingly sustainable manner. Factors such as current and target temperatures, position of the sun, sunshine, weather, weather forecast and expected heat production (e.g. people, computers) are taken into account for the individual room control.

 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?

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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.

Since the 2017/18 winter season, all snow groomers of Arosa Bergbahnen AG have also been equipped with a GPS device. This allows us to achieve maximum energy efficiency in preparing the slopes and to reduce the water used for snow-making.

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.

More about the video series

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