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Energy costs and effect on ski resorts, snowHeads ski forum
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Energy costs and effect on ski resorts

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What do people think? A big hike in lift pass prices for next season? Some French ski areas have seen their budget for diesel and electricity quadruple this season.

Then there is reaching the resort and heating for clients.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@davidof, are the resorts looking at more use of solar power?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@achilles, I don't know, I guess you'll see more roofs equipped with solar.

Another big thing on the horizon is the end of red diesel (GNR) for piste bashers on the 1st Jan 2023. I think a similar thing already happened in the UK for industrial use so I suspect the EU is behind this measure.
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It’s going to get to a stage where people simply can’t afford an already expensive holiday & that’s not good for anyone
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
davidof wrote:
@achilles, I don't know, I guess you'll see more roofs equipped with solar.

Another big thing on the horizon is the end of red diesel (GNR) for piste bashers on the 1st Jan 2023. I think a similar thing already happened in the UK for industrial use so I suspect the EU is behind this measure.


In the UK at least there are still some exemptions for agricultural / land management vehicles, which I am lead to believe will apply to Piste Bashers - unless road licensed on road legal tracks. However it seems the red diesel rebate is removed entirely for electricity generation which is going to really hit Glenshee as it is entirely off grid and a long way from a gird connection point with sufficient juice!
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Jonny996 wrote:
It’s going to get to a stage where people simply can’t afford an already expensive holiday & that’s not good for anyone


I suppose it depends if energy prices drop by next winter?

A number of mid resorts seem to be restricting their piste opening or closing early in France. This time of the year is fairly quiet anyway so if lift pass sales won't cover running costs I can see them being keen to close up; whatever the snow conditions.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
It depends whether energy costs are a large fraction of total ski area running costs. Does anyone know?

My guess is that the biggest outgoing is wages, with infrastructure costs (investment and maintenance) also being pretty high.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Did the french government not put a cap on the rise at 4% or was domestic only
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I did wonder this on a recent visit to Avoriaz/Morzine as there seemed to be very little piste bashing being done. Figured it was either to protect what little soft snow they had or due to price of fuel.
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The biggest impact for most skiers will be cost of travel to the slopes. Effects already being felt ...

Fuel prices blamed as Scottish ski season down 25% despite fresh snow
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands-islands/4127360/scottish-ski-season-fuel-prices/
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
This season i have really noticed the transfers being expensive
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
A while back (probably 20 years) a guy from our lift company gave a talk about the way the area operates. The big stat was the cost of preparing the pistes. Apparently it cost CHF80,000 in diesel to piste the entire area just once (about 210km of slopes in those days). That’s staggering.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@telford_mike, it certainly is. Puts the cost of lift passes into perspective - the cost now must be a lot more, too.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Being in the renewable game, there are a few issues with solar in resorts but non that cant be overcome.

1. Infrastructure, grid to the resorts not being capable of additional supply, export limiting etc, especially in the summer when more resorts are closed...
2. Snow loads on the panels and when the snow is on the panel then there isn't any irradiance to produce power, then some sort of mechanism to clear the snow, which can be heating elements but then that uses power and creates a more constant water runoff.
3. Roof design, those massive slate tiles Shocked
4. Storage of power to be used at a time when there is no irradiance and a shortage of semi-conductors to go into the storage systems.
5. Cost!!! still expensive to buy and install, but now a little more attractive in this energy crisis.

Also part of the issue is the closing of so many nuclear power stations, which has now made some parts of Europe so dependent on gas rolling eyes

However, the change is coming and solutions will be made for our snowy playgrounds.

Re: Red diesel, it is all about taxation, the product is the same and from my understanding, it's just died red so it cant be used on the road, so makes no sense unless it is to try and force the uptake in electrified equipment, you never know, Piste Bashers might even be electric someday and maybe even automated just like the latest John deer combine harvester...
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j b wrote:
It depends whether energy costs are a large fraction of total ski area running costs. Does anyone know?.


6% of the price of a lift pass before the Covid crisis.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks @davidof. So a big increase won't in itself cause unaffordable lift passes - but I suspect all the other expenses will be suffering inflation at higher rates than have been the case recently.

I get the impression most ski areas tend to deal with price increases they hope are temporary by delaying new investment, rather than frightening customers with large cost rises.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Lift pass prices will increase substantially. By coincidence, a local was telling us about this today in Obergurgl.

With a wealthy market and semi-inelastic demand (Brits, Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Belgians simply won’t forego their trips to The Alps), resorts will find that people just pay up.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Postcript: interestingly on the Snow Reports section Steve Angus reports that Val d'Isere is talking about reducing many of the ski pass prices next season. We need to see ...
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Not totally off-topic, but I seem to remember hearing that the actual ski lifts themselves are quite energy efficient, especially compared to other forms of mass transit. I was told that the major expense in running a ski lift was paying the lifties.

Anyone know whether this is true?
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Kramer wrote:
Not totally off-topic, but I seem to remember hearing that the actual ski lifts themselves are quite energy efficient, especially compared to other forms of mass transit. I was told that the major expense in running a ski lift was paying the lifties.

Anyone know whether this is true?


800 euros per day for leccy to run a six seater chair. You'd probably need 2 lifties on duty and two shifts for a week.
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Not wishing to sound pessimistic but the ski industry must be up against it right now?

The price of fuel and the wider cost of living crisis is just the latest challenge. Brexit has scuppered the chalet market and all but eliminated British jobs in the alps.
Covid has meant the loss of a whole season, badly affected a second, seriously damaged the travel industry, undermined customer confidence and caused a shortage of staff.
Climate Change is reducing season reliability and is a medium term risk to the whole industry. Meanwhile the pursuit of low carbon is going to prove very challenging to an industry dependent on the consumption of large amounts of electricity and fossil fuels.
A declining youth population and reduced opportunity for younger people to engage and pursue winter sports together with the loss of the baby boomers at the other end must also be a worry.

No doubt there will be reasons to be optimistic too, they just don’t seem obvious right now, at least here in the UK?

The boom years of the 60s, 70s and 80s feel a long time ago now.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Kramer, electric motors are very efficient compared to ice ones, 90%+ compared to 40% for an ice engine at optimal efficiency and, compared to cars, low speeds so comparatively low drag, and nigh on perfect regeneration in that the chairs descending pull on the chairs ascending, so very little waste compared to most kinds of transportation, just some friction and deformation of the cables at the supports/pulleys. If we take Davidof"s figure of 800 Euros per day for a six seater that is remarkably cheap per lift ride. Capacity for a six seater is something like 3000people/hour, running at 50% capacity for 7 hours is 10,000 rides over the day, or 8cents of electricity per person per lift ride. Say you rode 20 lifts in a day, that's 1.6 euro a day on electricity. That alone doubling isn't going to make the difference between going or not going skiing for most people but of course it is not just electricity prices increasing
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Peter S, not contradicting you about the challenges ahead, but at least Alpine regions have a big input of hydroelectric power. And in the case of France at least, the non-fossil nuclear helps.

But if younger people are put off by cost, that will undermine the future as you say. I wonder whether they are thinking about extending the child discounts upwards to earning ages.
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telford_mike wrote:
A while back (probably 20 years) a guy from our lift company gave a talk about the way the area operates. The big stat was the cost of preparing the pistes. Apparently it cost CHF80,000 in diesel to piste the entire area just once (about 210km of slopes in those days). That’s staggering.


I’ve been wrong many times before but I sense that figure can’t be right. Especially for 20 years ago.
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j b wrote:
@Peter S,

But if younger people are put off by cost, that will undermine the future as you say. I wonder whether they are thinking about extending the child discounts upwards to earning ages.


Not that I’m a golfer but I do like the way they stagger their membership fees, some of them don’t pay full fees until the age of 30.

A 23 year old, couple of years out of university has far more challenging things to do with their money than pay the same as Mr/Ms management with their funded final salary pension
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j b wrote:
Postcript: interestingly on the Snow Reports section Steve Angus reports that Val d'Isere is talking about reducing many of the ski pass prices next season. We need to see ...


The business mantra "no cashflow is like a heart attack" in other words, if you can't improve flow then you're likely to die, springs to mind. If they can publicise the headline of not putting up cost for prospective clients, then they get a decent chance to assess profitability which wouldn't otherwise exist. Seems a sensible strategy and hopefully calms the waters a little in giving people the confidence to book ahead after such a difficult period the last few season.

However skiing is viewed by ourselves or those outside and non participating, it always strikes me in meeting anyone working in ski areas of hard working and diligently applied effort they make in their work. The participation may be viewed as unnecessary, but for these people and regions it is their way of life and route to income, with holiday makers ultimately paying them. There's nothing wrong with that, every industry has a energy profile and it's right to have honest scrutiny, but not demonised. If those participants didn't go there, they would not be energy nil by being somewhere else.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
rambotion wrote:
@Kramer, electric motors are very efficient compared to ice ones, 90%+ compared to 40% for an ice engine at optimal efficiency and, compared to cars, low speeds so comparatively low drag, and nigh on perfect regeneration in that the chairs descending pull on the chairs ascending, so very little waste compared to most kinds of transportation, just some friction and deformation of the cables at the supports/pulleys. If we take Davidof"s figure of 800 Euros per day for a six seater that is remarkably cheap per lift ride. Capacity for a six seater is something like 3000people/hour, running at 50% capacity for 7 hours is 10,000 rides over the day, or 8cents of electricity per person per lift ride. Say you rode 20 lifts in a day, that's 1.6 euro a day on electricity. That alone doubling isn't going to make the difference between going or not going skiing for most people but of course it is not just electricity prices increasing


I like your analysis.

If we take my figure of 6% of the LP cost being energy pre-covid an a LP costing an average of 50 euros per day then 2.5 euros is energy rising to 4 - 5 euros today. So we can imagine a 2 euro increase next season - maybe 12-15 euros on skiing in the big Savoie resorts. Be interesting to come back to this thread in the autumn to see what actually happened.

A six day pass currently costs:
324,00 € - Val d'Isere / Tignes
324,00 € - les Arcs or la Plagne
330,00 € - les Trois Vallees
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Another way of looking at it is how much potential energy per day the skier gains through being hoisted up the mountain. The figures in the below calc are all just estimates, but it tallies very nicely with my earlier estimate of 1.6 euro/day of electricity per skier for the lift system. Basically, as far as I can tell, from both a cost and environmental perspective, energy use from the lift system is a bit of a red herring. It's possible that this not true for the snow cannons and piste bashers though

Height gain per day 10,000m
Mass of skier plus skis 80kg
gravity 9.81
Total potential energy gained 7848000 Joules
Total potential energy gained 2.18 kWh
Assumed efficency 0.33 *This is total guess
Total energy used 6.6 kWh
Approx price of electricity 24 cents/kWhr
Price of electricity per day per skier 158.5 cents
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
For piste bashers. you can reckon on 500l of diesel per month per km of pistes.

So a 50km ski area will use around 150,000 liters of fuel. About 200,000 euros costs over a season. An increase from about 120,000 euros pre Covid.

(figures from la Clusaz and Font Romeu, I took the average).

Currently at the "red" tarif so around 1 euro 30c but scheduled to go onto retail on the 1st Jan 2022.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Tue 5-04-22 12:14; edited 2 times in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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A snow canon uses 2.8kw/h to produce 1m3 of snow.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Do the areas get cheaper elec from hydro? Less dependent on fossil?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
rambotion wrote:
@Kramer, electric motors are very efficient compared to ice ones, 90%+ compared to 40% for an ice engine at optimal efficiency and, compared to cars, low speeds so comparatively low drag, and nigh on perfect regeneration in that the chairs descending pull on the chairs ascending, so very little waste compared to most kinds of transportation, just some friction and deformation of the cables at the supports/pulleys. If we take Davidof"s figure of 800 Euros per day for a six seater that is remarkably cheap per lift ride. Capacity for a six seater is something like 3000people/hour, running at 50% capacity for 7 hours is 10,000 rides over the day, or 8cents of electricity per person per lift ride. Say you rode 20 lifts in a day, that's 1.6 euro a day on electricity. That alone doubling isn't going to make the difference between going or not going skiing for most people but of course it is not just electricity prices increasing


Nice.

I’m a bit of a lift geek. I watch videos about them on YouTube. Zermatt have introduced a full automated gondola this season to further reduce operating costs apparently.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
My understanding is that by far the biggest energy cost/carbon footprint for most people visiting a ski resort is travel there and back, specifically by short haul flying.

Transfers (as long as the coach/minibus/taxi is relatively full) are much less.
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