The Swiss install a Solar-Powered Ski Lift in Tenna to use During the Short Gray Days of Winter

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 5th, 2012

Week in Review

A tiny little town in Switzerland, Tenna, has a small ski resort with one T-bar ski lift.  The kind where they pull you uphill while you stand on your skis.  With the lift between your legs and the ‘T’ behind your upper thighs where they join the buttocks.  It’s not the most comfortable way to the top.  But it sure beats cross-country skiing uphill to alpine-ski downhill.  Or the dreaded tow rope.  Where you pull your weight uphill by holding on to the rope as it pulls you uphill.

This ski lift was wearing out.  And it was the only one in the valley.  But what is winter in a Swiss valley without skiing?  Long, cold and gray.  So the people of Terra saved that T-bar lift.  To make those short gray days more bearable (see Tiny Swiss town builds the world’s first solar-powered ski lift by Adventure Journal posted 2/2/2012 on GrindTV).

The Tenna lift generates 90,000 kilowatt hours a year, or three times the juice needed to run the lift, and the extra power goes back into the grid, which makes money for the town, which can pay residents back…

At $1.5 million, the project wasn’t cheap, but considering the cost of a new or updated lift anyway, plus the open skies above most ski lift pathways, it’s a no-brainer to use that area to offset the energy use. Other resorts might not gain 300 percent efficiency as in Tenna…

If you follow the link you’ll see a sunny picture of the lift.  With a lot of clouds in the sky.  On a sunny day.  So it’s just not night time that’s a problem with solar power.  It’s the clouds, too.  That’s why solar power has such a low capacity factor.  The labeled output for those solar panels may be 90,000 kilowatt hours a year.  But after you apply a 25% capacity factor to account for when the sun doesn’t shine, that’s only 22,500 kilowatt hours a year.  Which means there’s a good chance that there will be times when skiers won’t reach the top of the mountain.  Luckily for them, though, it’s a T-bar lift.  Where their feet will always be touching the ground on the ride up.  So they can always ski back to their car when the lift stops working.  And start up their good old reliable internal combustion engine to drive back home.

Seems like a lot of money to spend for a part-time ski lift.

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