Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is thought to be the first North American ski resort to use a fully-electric snow grooming machine. Other resorts are looking with interest with some claiming hydrogen power is the future. NEW
The resort has taken on a PistenBully 100 E which is part of a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.
The PistenBully was unveiled as the world’s first all-electric slope groomer at the Interalpin 2019 trade fair.
The Pistenbully 100E has been used in Europe.
“We normally drive alot by ear, which is not possible with the Pistenbully 100E because it is so quiet,” said Stefan Steurer, a PistenBully operator in Balderschwang, Germany.
“It was an adjustment as first but in the long run it is very pleasant to drive.”
Resorts across the mountains are looking at the performance of electric machines, both in Taos and elsewhere.
“We not only want to make this technology ready for series production but also affordable,” said Michael Kuhn from Pistenbully.
“This promising technology won’t be used widely until it is affordable. And only then will it have a positive impact on nature.”
With ski resorts looking at improving their environmental footprint some claim hydrogen powered piste bashers, rather than electric, is the way forward.
In 2020 the Domaines Skiables de France, the national professional body for lift companies, said all 250 ski resorts in France will introduce hydrogen-powered piste bashers as part of a commitment to going carbon neutral by 2037.
The organisation says diesel snow groomers account for 94% of the CO2 emissions of French ski resorts with the operation of ski lifts (4%) and snowmaking equipment (2%) making up the rest.
The figures do not take account of the CO2 produced by the 7 million-plus skiers and snowboarders who visit French resorts each year, 25% of whom travel from outside France.
The President of Domaines Skiables de France, says he expects the first hydrogen-powered snow groomer to be on the market by 2025.
“Yes, we are a source of pollution, the ski area, we’re going to deal with it,” said Alexandre Maulin back in 2020 as the pledge was announced.
“The first work will be to help with production of hydrogen-powered snow groomers. It’s a priority for all the manufacturers.”
In the USA Taos Ski Valley is committed to improve sustainability and has a number of other initiatives to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.
Here at PlanetSKI we recently reported on the efforts to go green of the Ski Welt area in the Tirol in Austria: