Sustainable values at the Schmittenhöhebahn

Sustainable values are cherished at the Schmittenhöhebahn

As one of the leading cablecar companies in the province of Salzburg, Schmitten treasures nature as the underlying foundation for ski sports and hiking in the mountains. Over the last few years, Schmitten has improved its especially gentle and thrifty ways of utilising natural resources. It spares no efforts in continuing to work ongoingly towards energy efficiency as a company.

Energy efficiency: heat recovery

Sustainable thinking starts with the office. The Schmittenhöhebahn AG office building blends in perfectly with its surroundings, and its most striking feature is its energy efficiency. Completed in 2010, the building is heated and cooled with geothermal energy and meets all low-energy house specifications.

Waste heat from the engine of the Areitbahn cable car has been successfully harnessed since 1988. A fixed heat recovery system was installed at the Areitbahn I top station. The heat loss is reduced by converting the waste heat to heat the rest of the building.


Green electricity from solar energy: photovoltaic system

The installation of up to around 2300 m² of photovoltaic systems at the valley and top stations of Areitbahn I, II and III, and the Glocknerbahn chairlift valley and top station is another step towards increasing energy efficiency. Schmitten has been working to prepare the project for three years. Once the funding process was completed, implementation began this year. The power generated covers 5 % of the power required for the cable cars and lifts.

Efficient snowmaking

Schmitten has been one of the snowmaking pioneers since 1973. The first attempts at snowmaking were carried out on the standard run 40 years ago. In the winter now, more than 350 snow guns are ready for use and can provide snow for the entire resort. This snowmaking equipment is fundamental to a successful and reliable winter tourist trade, ensures the season can start as planned and guarantees excellent quality on the pistes throughout the winter.

The increase in snowmaking is a sign of the successful development of winter tourism in the region.
Schmittenhöhebahn is constantly seeking to improve snowmaking efficiency with ongoing optimisation of system planning from the pump stations to the snow guns and the controls. Thanks to intelligent snowmaking systems and effective system planning, the energy balance has been steadily improved in recent years.

Josef Pichler has been the ski slope manager at Schmitten for 25 years and is very familiar with the snow requirements in the resort. It is important to install the right snow gun in the right place to exploit the snow windows as effectively as possible. Use of the smart WinCC snowmaking system from Siemens also helps to ensure efficient snowmaking. This software allows the snow team to keep an eye on temperatures throughout the ski area and identify the slopes for which snow can be generated in an energy-efficient way.

Technical development and technological progress in snowmaking systems are also helping ski resorts to produce snow more efficiently. The aim is to make more snow with the resources used. Schmitten has taken advantage of this and replaced 30 snow guns with energy-efficient alternatives. The new snow guns produce the same amount of snow with only a tenth of the power. Efficient snowmaking since 2009, Schmitten has been using snow depth measurement to offer greater snow reliability and an even better quality of piste whilst reducing its use of resources and protecting the environment. The ARENA PistenManagement system has already been fitted and successfully operated in two snow groomers.

This system allows snow depth data to be exchanged between the snowcats and passed on to the piste team in real time. Snow depth measurement helps us to produce only as much snow as is really necessary or only where it is really needed. It also allows us to correct weak points on the piste long before they become visible.


Biogas-powered snowmobiles

Since 2010, three of the Schmitten piste patrol snowmobiles have run on biogas. The biogas is produced in Eugendorf and supplied to Zell am See through the Salzburg AG network. A gas filling station had already been set up at the Schmittenhöhebahn valley station back in 2007, but the snowmobiles don’t need to be in the valley to refuel. To shorten the distance they need to travel, there is also a biogas filling station right at the trassXpress valley station at an altitude of 1900 metres.

The engine starts normally and runs on petrol until a set engine temperature is reached. Then, the system automatically switches to biogas. A snowmobile consumes around 1500 kg of biogas annually. And there's more: the system reduces pollution by up to 80% and produces almost zero fine particle emissions. Fuel costs have also been reduced by 50%. Schmitten received the "klima:aktiv-Partner" award from the Ministry of Sustainability for its efficient, environmentally friendly piste patrol approach.


Snow grooming with biogas

Schmitten has also already used biogas-powered snowcats for snow grooming. The PistenBully 600 Dual Fuel Concept is Kässbohrer's first series production PistenBully with diesel and natural gas bi-fuel engines. It significantly reduces diesel consumption and the related environmental impact.

In the 2011/12 winter season, the snowcat was used for daily grooming and was mainly in dual fuel operation (diesel and natural gas). This meant biogas replaced 31% of previous diesel consumption, and we saved over 10,000 litres of diesel per year and machine. The use of biogas reduces pollutant and CO2 emissions. What is more, the engines are powered by a renewable fuel.


Ecology is also a focus for Schmitten when it comes to entertainment for visitors. Thanks to the electric version of the KTM Freeride motocross motorcycle, there is nothing to stop the ultimate two-wheeler freeride experience. No noise, no petrol, no hot exhaust fumes and no emissions, so visitors can enjoy their motorised fun with a green conscience. This summer, Schmittenhöhebahn is to install photovoltaic plants covering up to 1500 square metres and intends to use the green solar power generated to charge its electric bikes in the foreseeable future. All in all, the mountain freeride experience is an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional motocross.

Environment policies of Schmittenhöhebahn AG

In order to ensure energy-efficient economizing inside our company, Schmitten pursues rigourous environmental policies, sticks consequentially to its targets and checks them regularly.