Fossil Free Ski Resorts

Resorts such as Aspen, Whistler, and Hammarbybacken race to be the first fossil free ski resorts as climate threats loom.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Resorts such as Aspen, Whistler, and Hammarbybacken race to be the first fossil free ski resorts as climate threats loom. Image SkiStar

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Resorts such as Aspen, Whistler, and Hammarbybacken race to be the first fossil free ski resorts as climate threats loom.

Ski resorts worldwide are accelerating efforts to eliminate fossil fuel use and transition to clean energy to curb their carbon footprints and mitigate climate change’s existential risks to winter sports.

Leading the fossil free ski resorts charge in North America is Aspen Snowmass in Colorado, which aims to become a fully fossil free ski resort operation by 2025 through a transition to 100% renewable electricity sources like wind and solar. The resort also plans to replace all natural gas and propane heating systems with electric power backed by renewable energy credits.

Climate change is an existential threat to the business and the winter sports economy. By moving to fossil fossil free ski resort operations, they aim to inspire the entire ski industry to do their part for climate action before it’s too late.

But the push for sustainable, fossil free ski resorts is rapidly going global. In Sweden, the country’s largest resort operator, SkiStar, launched an innovative pilot project at its Hammarbybacken resort outside Stockholm to test running the facility completely fossil fuel-free.

“The goal is to show that a transition to fossil free ski resort operations is possible while identifying challenges to inform decisions across our entire business,” said a SkiStar representative. “We hope it inspires others to test bold sustainability initiatives.”

SkiStar’s comprehensive electrification approach at Hammarbybacken mirrors Aspen’s efforts. The Swedish resort has replaced its entire fleet of vehicles and machinery – from snowmobiles and groomers to trucks and UTVs – with electric models from manufacturers like Volvo, Taiga Motors, and Polaris.

This electric overhaul includes deploying Volvo’s L25 Electric wheel loader for snow removal and terrain management, proving battery-powered solutions can handle the intense demands of resort operations. Volvo also provided a large-scale battery energy storage system to power and charge the electric fleet.

See also: Holcim Orders 1000 Volvo FH Electric Trucks.

“Forget the stereotype that electric vehicles struggle in the cold—we’re proving that EVs can transform ski areas into sustainable, fossil-free operations. Zero emissions and low noise are better for the environment and resort experience.” said a Volvo representative.

Like Aspen, Hammarbybacken has also transitioned to 100% renewable electricity sources through a new contract with Swedish utilities. This allows the resort, including running energy-intensive snowmaking systems, to be a fully fossil free ski resort.

The shift towards fossil free ski resort areas is also rapidly gaining momentum in Western Canada. Iconic Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America, recently announced its “Goal Zero” plan to eliminate all emissions from operations by 2033. This comprehensive strategy involves transitioning to 100% renewable energy sources and electrifying vehicle fleets and machinery like snowcats and groomers.

As part of Goal Zero, Whistler Blackcomb aims to rapidly scale up its existing renewable energy production from hydro plants and solar arrays. It’s also exploring emerging technologies like hydrogen power to replace fossil fuels for heating and transportation needs across the massive 8,171-acre resort.

Environmental advocates applaud such leadership but stress that truly preserving winter sports depends on rapidly decarbonizing the entire global economy.

The climate risks facing the multi-billion-dollar ski industry are dire. Rising temperatures have already caused shorter seasons, volatile weather disruptions like rain and warm snaps, lower snowpack levels, and drought conditions impacting water-intensive operations like snowmaking and grooming.

It’s inspiring to see resorts take control of their carbon footprints through electrification and renewables. Still, the scope of their impact depends on comprehensive global action to transition rapidly from fossil fuels across all sectors. We’re racing against the clock to preserve winter sports like skiing.

As innovative pilot projects like Hammarbybacken and ambitious commitments from giants like Aspen Snowmass and Whistler Blackcomb demonstrate the feasibility of fossil fuel-free resort operations, the winter sports community hopes to inspire broader climate policies and business transformations to keep their slopes white for generations to come.

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