Innovation made in Donnersbachwald

The current call of the next-incubator, the innovation think-tank of Energie Steiermark, is looking for innovative energy and heating solutions for the office building of the Riesneralm Bergbahnen in Donnersbachwald.

Openess to new ideas, innovative strength and the focus on sustainable solutions has been part of the agendy for the managing director of the Riesneralm Bergbahnen Erwin Petz and his team this year.

As a medium-sized company we are often equipped with only very limited ressources but the Riesneralm deliberately stands out on the domestic tourism market with innovations.

Erwin Petz, Managing Director Riesneralm Bergbahnen GmbH

And that this is consistently implemented in the Ennstal side valley can be impressivly demonstrated. The current showpiece of innovation is a 506 kW hydropower plant at the foot of the ski mountain, but it has more to offer and has made it into an innovation for the first time in Austria.

The supply line for the generation of electricity takes place via an existing hydropower plant, which is fed from the Donnersbach. Since an additionalsnow-making pond would have been required for snow-making on the ski slopes, the decision was made to channel the water resource already used for power generation into a pumping station and pump it up the mountain from there to use the water for snow-making. This is a solution that is all in line with Riesneralm’s motto: Making the region all sustainable. With this solution, the valuable resource water could be used twice and an intervention in the unique landscape through dredging work and the creation of an additional pond could be avoided.

The company’s own generation systems can now cover more than double the annual electricity that is required – and that includes the ski area and the snowmaking system as well as the catering and hotel industry. An important step towards energy autonomy.

This innovation naturally arouses national and international interest. For example, delegations from South Tyrol and Switzerland were able to convince themselves of the benefits of the solution in Donnersbachwald. And recently the Ski Guide Austria Award 2021 was also received for particularly sustainable projects.

Erwin Petz, Geschäftsführer Riesneralm Bergbahnen GmbH

Not always visible to guests of the Styrian family ski area, but numerous other innovations can be discovered. Snow groomers were equipped with an altitude measuring system – GPS sensors and a management system. This allows exact analyzes of the different snow depths and thus effective distribution of the amounts of snow on the slopes and, as a result, the possible economical use of snowmaking while maintaining the best possible slope quality.

The latest idea from the creative Ennstaler can be admired on site from July. The avalanche gallery – a device to protect the slopes – is currently being developed into an art gallery. „We are building an avalanche gallery at the summit and give young artists the chance to present their works,“ says Erwin Petz.

The fact that the Riesneralm Bergbahnen are also open to innovative ideas outside of the internal think tank is proven by the call currently being carried out in cooperation with the next-incubator.

Alexandra Fuchs

We are a small and innovative team that implements and develops solutions and ideas together with partners. We see this call as a good opportunity for companies and startups to present their solutions and contribute ideas.

Alexandra Fuchs, Project Owner Riesneralm Bergbahnen

Innovative solutions and concepts are very welcome. More information can be found on the homepage of the next-incubator

Gernot Schröck

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