In the tiny mountain village of Tenna, Switzerland, big green ideas have been introduced. This tiny Swiss town with a population of about 110 inhabitants is now home of the world’s first ski lift powered by a chain of 82 solar “wings” that trail up from the base station to its mountain peak. According to Adventure Journal, the multiple energy-capturing panels take in 90,000 kilowatts a year — about three times more solar energy than it needs to power the lift — providing surplus power that is sold to the regional power company’s grid. This makes the solar-powered ski lift not only good environmental sense, but good financial sense since it provides a steady income to the residents of Tenna.
Solar-powered ski lifts are innovative, but the idea isn’t exactly new; Colorado’s Steamboat resort has the “Sunshine Express” lift, which is powered by solar and wind power — provided by their power company remotely. The “Sonnenlift” at Austria’s SkiWelt resort is powered by solar energy, from panels mounted all along the south side of one of their valley stations. But this new ski lift in Tenna is the first which uses solar panels spread out over a series of panels that ascends up the slope like the ski lift. While an impressive sight to see, it is seemingly problematic — however, each panel has the the ability to swivel so that it may follow the sun — and slide off any snow that could pile up during a snowstorm. How’s that for ingenuity?