Skiing with solar power

Skiing with solar power

In order to replace an existing ski lift, the Tenna ski lift association constructed the world’s first solar ski lift in 2011 in Switzerland. We asked Pöyry’s Project Manager Elmar Wenk to tell us more about this exciting project.

Elmar, how did the idea of the solar ski lift arise?
“Franz Baumgartner, Professor at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, developed the idea to combine the cable suspension of a ski lift with solar wing technology. In Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, a Suisse company specialized in cable railway systems, he found a partner for the implementation of the solar system. Our team contributed to this innovation with the structural analysis, reinforcement plans and all excavation works. The whole project was also very much supported by the tourism platform “Enjoy Switzerland”, especially Felicia Montalta.  In the end, it was a joint effort which turned this world first into reality.”

Pöyry's project team from left to right: Project manager Elmar Wenk, Ralph Gartmann,
Adrian Koch, Martin Gadola, Gianfranco Sabatino

What makes the solar ski lift an innovation?
“It’s the combination of ski lift and solar technology. The 450 m long ski lift is supported by five towers. So-called solar wings were installed on a length of 330 m. The solar wings are not only moveable but also smart. Every ten minutes, they’re adjusted to the solar radiation which produces 20-25% more energy compared to conventional solar systems. Solar power delivers the energy required to operate the ski lift. The remaining energy can be fed into the grid.

Beside technological innovation, what are the real benefits of the plant?
“The solar ski lift is an excellent example for sustainable development. The solar installation on the lift produces energy 12 months a year. The lift operates not only renewable energy, but about 2/3 of the energy can be sold!  The plant will quickly pay itself off and the client will benefit from  the additional income.

You talked about economic and environmental impacts. What about social effects for the village or the whole valley?
“Thanks to the solar ski lift, 8 people will have a part-time job. The village will benefit from overnight stays of tourists and their use of the village’s infrastructure. And hopefully, with this new attraction Tenna will suffer less from the migration of their young citizens as many mountain villages in Switzerland do.

Pöyry is dedicated to engineering balanced sustainability in every single project. Tell us how your team develops balanced solutions for the client.
“We always consider economic, environmental and social aspects when searching for the best technical solutions. As an example for this project, we optimized the size of the foundations to reach cost-efficiency, emphasized soil conservation during site supervision and promoted close co-operation with local people, especially the farmers and land owners.”

Elmar, thanks a lot for these interesting details!

The Tenna solar ski lift has been inaugurated 17 December 2011. Edi Schaufelberger, President of Tenna ski lift association, is really satisfied with the cooperation. “From the outset with a first-class proposal, followed by  excellent coordination of all involved parties, on-time delivery and within budget, Pöyry convinced us during the whole project. The team solved unexpected problems during construction phase with prudence and also pushed through our requirements towards third party companies.”
“Looking back, I can say that choosing Pöyry for the challenging engineering works was like winning the lottery jackpot! I would like to thank the whole team for the pleasant cooperation onthe front” says Edi Schaufelberger.

Find out the project facts on the reference sheet

All pictures:

The project was presented also in local TV:
See the video in French
See the video in German