Lifts, apartments, hotels: In Andermatt they’re powered in a climate-neutral manner

January 22, 2020

Electricity and heat for the buildings and facilities of Andermatt Swiss Alps AG are generated entirely from renewable sources. What are these, and what can they do?

Where does the electricity for the lifts, apartments and hotels of Andermatt Swiss Alps come from?

The companies of the Andermatt Swiss Alps Group purchase electricity from the Ursern power station (EWU). Since 2019, the EWU has been producing and selling electricity exclusively from renewable energy sources from the Gotthard region.

What does the electricity mix consist of?

EWU has four hydroelectric power stations of its own and four wind turbines on Gütsch. All the electricity is therefore generated from completely renewable energy sources.

Is the output of the EWU power plants sufficient for Andermatt?

Yes, but not at all times of the year. The EWU produces around 30 million kilowatt hours per year with a demand in the entire valley of around 28 million kilowatt hours. The companies of Andermatt Swiss Alps purchase about one-third of this. During the high season in winter, demand is greater than the EWU’s production capacity. To compensate for this, electricity from renewable energy sources is purchased from other energy producers in the Gotthard region.

How are the ski lifts and gondolas on the Grisons side powered?

The electricity required for the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun on the Grisons side is produced by Energia Alpina and also comes 100% from renewable sources.

Where do heat and hot water for the Andermatt Swiss Alps buildings come from?

From the Göschenen heating plant, where wood is burned and the resulting heat is sent to Andermatt via a mountain pipeline. Waste heat from Swiss Army facilities in the Andermatt region is also used. Thus, all Andermatt Swiss Alps buildings are heated in a climate-neutral manner.

Where does the wood used in the heating plant come from?

From the heart of Switzerland: according to information from the Gotthard heating plant, 40% comes from Uri, 40% from Ticino, and 20% from Central Switzerland.

Won’t this lead to deforestation?

No. Even future generations will always have plenty of wood. Around five million cubic metres of wood are logged in Switzerland every year. Experts estimate that even twice that amount could be grown and logged.

How efficient is the wind farm on Gütsch?

The four wind turbines on Gütsch produce around 5.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year and supplement the electricity produced by hydroelectric power plants. Seventy per cent of the electricity generated by the wind turbines is produced in winter, when demand is highest due to operation of the gondolas and snow-making equipment but less hydroelectric power is produced. With the expansion of the location and the replacement of older turbines with the latest technology, production could even increase fivefold. The valley could then generate all of its own electricity from wind and hydropower plants.

How do people feel about the wind turbines?

The wind turbines on Gütsch are very popular, especially with guests. This is confirmed by EWU Managing Director Markus Russi. When the wind turbines are in operation, guests know that they are being transported up Gütsch with wind power, he says.

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