8th September 2022
With energy prices soaring there are concerns that some resorts may not fully open with implications for the local economies. In France resort officials have met the government. Across the Alps resorts are looking to reduce energy use and considering how to pay for it. NEW
Running ski lifts, making artificial snow, operating fleets of piste bashers and heating all the buildings in sub-zero temperatures.
These are just some of the essentials for ski resorts and they all use large amounts of energy.
The energy bill represents 5% of the budget on average of a French ski resort.
With the projected rise in prices, it could be up to 25%.
70% of the ski resorts in France have three-year contracts with the state electricity supplier, EDF.
These are due to be renegotiated this autumn and indications are that the energy supplier is asking for a 20-fold increase.
EDF has estimated a price of between €800 and €1,000 per megawatt – last winter it was €50 per megawatt.
France derives 70% of its electricity from nuclear power rather than Russian gas, but the rising global costs of energy have hit the French energy sector.
“We cannot accept the contract proposal that EDF has presented,” said Sébastien Giraud from the ski destination of Villard-de-Lans near Grenoble.
“With these prices, electricity will account for a quarter of the budget. If this is the final offer, we will not be able to stay open this winter because we will not be able to meet the electricity bill,” said Giraud to French television.
More than 120,000 jobs in France depend on the opening of ski areas, according to figures from Domaines skiables de France.
Some ski resorts may be less affected than others, depending on their use of renewable energy.
Serre Chevalier makes extensive use of solar panels, hydroelectricity and wind power and in 2006 pledged to produce 30% of its own energy consumption by 2023.
It has gone some way to meeting that target.
There are concerns in the other alpine nations with measures set to be put in place:
In the Tirol resorts say they will be able to reduce consumption by 10% next winter.
This will be done by running fewer lifts and cancelling night skiing that also requires floodlights.
It is expected the price of a ski pass will rise.
In Italy prices are also expected to rise.
The Dolomiti Superski area is reported to have said energy prices are set to go up 3 times so the cost of a ski pass will rise.
The accommodation will be more expensive as hotels and apartments pay more for heating and light.
In Switzerland resorts may be instructed by central government to reduce energy consumption by 20%.
The Association of Ski Lift Operators is currently looking at energy savings measures.
Laurent Vaucher from Téléverbier has told Swiss radio that ideas such as reducing the speed of lifts and stopping some altogether were being considered.
Other measures include shutting down some escalators and lifts in lift stations.
Resorts are reported to be looking at reducing heating and not using hot water in toilets.
It is thought night skiing in all Swiss resorts will be suspended for next season.
The ski sector consumes 0.34% of all energy in Switzerland.
Other ski areas in Europe are concerned.
The Norwegian Alpine Resorts and Mountain Destinations has sent a letter to the government calling for measures and support schemes for the ski resorts.
“In our area, with the predicted prices now, we are looking at a tenfold increase in power costs, perhaps more for the coming winter,” said Odd Stensrud to the newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv.
Electricity costs are the third largest expense item for resorts in Norway.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article as developments occur.