On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Snow Space Salzburg Bergbahnen hosted a discussion on "Sustainability in Winter Sports" as part of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Ladies Night Slalom in Flachau. The panelists shared the view that skiing and sustainability can and must be compatible in order to secure the long-term existence of this economic sector, which is so important in Austria. Following the debate, snow groomer manufacturer PRINOTH presented an absolute world first on the Hermann Maier FIS World Cup circuit: the LEITWOLF h2 MOTION - a snow groomer with a hydrogen combustion engine. In the context of the Ski World Cup, it celebrated its debut as part of the PRINOTH fleet that groomed the slopes for the competition.
The discussion dispelled prejudices about the ecological compatibility of skiing and brought together different positions. Roswitha Stadlober (President of the Austrian Ski Federation) commented on urgent questions regarding the role of ecology and sustainability in world-class sports. Klaus Tonhäuser (President and CEO PRINOTH Group) and Wolfgang Hettegger (CEO of Snow Space Salzburg Bergbahnen) represented the perspective of economically active companies in winter sports tourism. Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Ulrike Pröbstl-Haider (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna) enriched the debate with a scientific perspective with her results from decades of research in the field of ecological tourism. The event was moderated by Daniela Zeller.
Climate neutral ski resort
Snow Space Salzburg Bergbahnen is already focusing on ecologically compatible development. This is demonstrated by the objective anchored in the corporate strategy to be considered a climate-neutral ski resort by the 2025/26 season. For several years now, the mountain railroads have been investing sums in the millions to identify and implement measures for greater sustainability. In the meantime, all electricity for cable cars and snow-making equipment is sourced from 100% renewable energy sources. Employees reach their workplaces by electric shuttle buses. For guests from the province of Salzburg, the ski area covers the cost of the train or bus ticket - provided they travel by public transport.
After these measures were taken, a CO2 balance sheet was drawn up for the ski area. It showed that more than 50% of the remaining CO2 emissions of Snow Space Salzburg Bergbahnen are now attributable to slope grooming. "That is why the creation of low-emission alternatives in this area is particularly important," Wolfgang Hettegger emphasized in the debate. "We are currently testing a synthetic fuel for our existing snow groomers that can reduce emissions by 90%. However, this only serves as a temporary solution."
CO2 -free slope preparation
PRINOTH has already been successfully involved for years in the development of alternatively powered snow groomers that can perform in the extreme working conditions on the mountain. In December 2020, the company presented the LEITWOLF h2 MOTION, the world's first snow groomer powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. In parallel, work continued on other hydrogen technologies and extensive investments were made in research and development. In September 2022, PRINOTH unveiled a second world first: a hydrogen concept vehicle with an internal combustion engine. This vehicle now celebrated its debut in slope preparation during the Ski World Cup in Flachau. Klaus Tonhäuser expressed his confidence: "We expect to be able to bring this concept vehicle to the market ready for series production by 2025. The engine of the LEITWOLF h2 MOTION is similar to a diesel engine and offers our customers what they are used to from other machines. This will contribute to the acceptance of the technology. The biggest challenge is certainly in the production, transport and storage of the hydrogen - and that's where everyone is needed."
Equipped with a 13-liter six-cylinder engine developed by FPT Industrial, the LEITWOLF h2 MOTION delivers 460 hp (338 kW) and 2,000 Nm of torque. Hydrogen is stored in five tanks mounted on the rear of the machine. The hydrogen drive meets criteria such as power requirements and range and is free of CO2 emissions.
Due to its power and size, the LEITWOLF h2MOTION is primarily designed for sustainable slope preparation in larger ski resorts. With the electric HUSKY eMOTION, which is already on the market, and the two hydrogen concept engines, PRINOTH is a leader in the development of sustainable and CO2 -free snow groomers.
PRINOTH is an international manufacturer of snow groomers, tracked utility vehicles and machines and attachments for vegetation management with headquarters in Sterzing, Italy. In addition to customer orientation, the company's top priority is the development of resource-saving and forward-looking technologies.
Snow Space Salzburg Bergbahnen has anchored ecological and economic goals equally in its corporate strategy and has set itself the goal of becoming a climate-neutral ski resort by the 2025/26 season. The weightiness of the measures and speed of their implementation put the mountain railroads in a leading role in the entire DACH region.