US Resort Uses Fully Electric Piste Basher

Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico is thought to be the first North American ski resort to use a fully-electric snow grooming machine. Other resorts are looking with interest with some claiming hydrogen power is the future.

The resort has taken on a PistenBully 100 E which is part of a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

The PistenBully was unveiled as the world’s first all-electric slope groomer at the Interalpin 2019 trade fair.

Stats on the PistenBully 100 E

  • 126 kWh battery capacity, 400 volts
  • Can reach a 75% state of charge in 5 hours, 100% in 6.5 hours
  • Operation time per charge is 2.5 to 3 hours
  • Operated by 2 x 90 kW motors
  • Can reach a top speed of 27 km/h (16.7 mph)

The Pistenbully 100E has been used in Europe.

“We normally drive alot by ear, which is not possible with the Pistenbully 100E because it is so quiet,” said Stefan Steurer, a PistenBully operator in Balderschwang, Germany.

“It was an adjustment as first but in the long run it is very pleasant to drive.”

Resorts across the mountains are looking at the performance of electric machines, both in Taos and elsewhere.

“We not only want to make this technology ready for series production but also affordable,” said Michael Kuhn from Pistenbully.

“This promising technology won’t be used widely until it is affordable. And only then will it have a positive impact on nature.”

With ski resorts looking at improving their environmental footprint some claim hydrogen powered piste bashers, rather than electric, is the way forward.

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Image © PlanetSKI

In 2020 the Domaines Skiables de France, the national professional body for lift companies, said all 250 ski resorts in France will introduce hydrogen-powered piste bashers as part of a commitment to going carbon neutral by 2037.

The organisation says diesel snow groomers account for 94% of the CO2 emissions of French ski resorts with the operation of ski lifts (4%) and snowmaking equipment (2%) making up the rest.

The figures do not take account of the CO2 produced by the 7 million-plus skiers and snowboarders who visit French resorts each year, 25% of whom travel from outside France.

The President of Domaines Skiables de France, says he expects the first hydrogen-powered snow groomer to be on the market by 2025.

“Yes, we are a source of pollution, the ski area, we’re going to deal with it,” said Alexandre Maulin back in 2020 as the pledge was announced.

“The first work will be to help with production of hydrogen-powered snow groomers. It’s a priority for all the manufacturers.”

In the USA Taos Ski Valley is committed to improve sustainability and has a number of other initiatives to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

  • The local electric cooperative will be 100% daytime solar by 2022
  • Researching ways to convert existing and future systems to be electric, including heating systems and converting fleets to EVs
  • Taos Air flights are 100% Gold Standard carbon offset through partnership with Native.
  • Invested in a BioCoTech composter that can process 150-200 pounds of waste in a 14-16 hour period and produces an inert carbon material used to enhance soil
  • Removed most single-use plastic bottles from waste stream in food and beverage outlets and moved to products in recyclable aluminum cans
  • 8 electric vehicle chargers available for staff and guests with 20 more to be installed in the future

Here at PlanetSKI we recently reported on the efforts to go green of the Ski Welt area in the Tirol in Austria: