Monday, 22 February 2016

Who built the World’s First Solar Powered Ski Lift?

Ski lifts are a niche within the vertical transportation industry.  In recent years the vertical transportation industry has explored a number of ways to increase energy efficiency in all scenarios where vertical transportation is deployed and solar power has proven to be one of the most popular methods. When it comes to solar power the local climate has a huge impact on the viability of a project as does access to financial resources. Solar-powered installations are usually considerably more expensive than conventional versions of vertical transportation.

Who built the world’s first solar powered Ski lift?

Given these considerations it is surprising that a small Swiss town called Tenna in the Safien Valley is the location of the world’s first solar powered ski lift. That’s right, the world’s first solar powered ski lift is not in Aspen, Colorado or  Val-d'Isère. It was built in 2012 is in a small Swiss town with a population of one hundred and twelve people. The Tenna ski lift project received many generous donations that literally enabled the project to get off the ground.

How does it work?

The ski lift is 450 metres in length and has around 80 solar panels directly integrated into it.  The solar panels on the ski lift have an ideal south-facing angle of 30 degrees and rotate uniaxially along with the sun, tracking it across the sky. The solar panels produce about 90,000 kWh per year. Approx. 22,000 kWh is required for the operation of the ski lift and the rest is sold to EW Tenna (local power grid). EW Tenna then sells this power to environmentally conscious parties who wish to purchase solar energy. According to estimates* the solar panels on the ski lift produce 21% more current than customary rooftop panels, because the efficiency of photovoltaic cells is the greatest when the sun shines vertically on them. The ski lift is capable of pulling 800 skiers up the mountain per hour. 

Is there a back up power supply?

Yes, if there is prolonged period of bad weather or storms the ski lift could be powered by electricity because it is also connected to a local power supply. 

Dunbar and Boardman is the lift, escalator and access equipment  consultancy. Are you currently planning a project that will involve vertical transportation?  We would be happy to discuss with you. Give us a call on T +44 (0) 20 7739 5093 or send us an email via  garyavis@dunbarboardman.com to start the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Image credit: bit.ly/1Tvix3e

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