A small Swiss village now hosts one of the world’s first solar-powered ski lift designs, which has just been put into action. Located in Tenna, the innovative system captures the sun’s energy to produce the electricity needed for the ski lift’s operation.
The solar ski lift system is comprised of around 80 photovoltaic panels positioned along a 450 metre pull stretch. This arrangement allows for 800 skiers to be carried every hour – the journey itself taking about three minutes from start to finish at a speed of up to half-a metre every second – and there’s a linked backup system that kicks in when the sun isn’t shining or during darkened hours.
That way, the solar-powered ski lift can theoretically operate around the clock.
Solar Ski Lift
The solar ski lift’s photovoltaic panels aren’t fixed but, rather, rotate to track the sun’s progress across the sky. That maximises their efficiency and, in fact, the panels are so efficient that, in peak conditions, they produce more energy that the ski lifts need. The excess energy is fed into the national grid, giving it a share of the 90,000 kW-h power output produced every year.
The photovoltaic panels are also designed to dislodge any snow that settles on them – allowing them to carry on working even when nature tries to disrupt things.
Renewable energy is already extensively used in Tenna, with both solar-based and hydroelectric-based technologies deployed.
Solar-Powered Ski Lift
The solar-powered ski lift idea emerged when the original hydraulic ski lift needed replacing and construction on it got underway at the end of 2009.
“Our project is a push for others to realize similar ecological innovations” solar ski lift designer Felicia Montalta stated in comments quoted by ESPN Action Sports. “We hope that our ski-lift is motivation for the whole valley – and the whole world – to think about how we can do things in a more ecologically friendly way.”
A single-day Tenna solar ski lift pass is presently priced at 25 Swiss Francs while the weekly version costs 100 Swiss Francs. Additional information on this pioneering renewable energy technology system is available at the official Tenna solar ski lift website.
Image copyright Solarskilift.ch