When you think about great ski destinations, Barcelona is not one that comes to mind. After all, the Spanish city boasts an average year round temperature of 68ºF. But a Dutch company known as SnowWord is hoping to change that by building an indoor ski resort that is also environmentally friendly.
SnowWorld specializes in building ski domes that allow skiers to hit the (artificial) slopes all year round, and have been using a host of creative techniques to make their buildings more sustainable. For instance, the company has designed buildings that recycle the heat generated from their snow-making machines for use in creating hot water. But the Barcelona project is their first attempt to completely eliminate the energy needs of one of their facilities.
The plan is to tap a resource that, until now, has been left largely unused, in an attempt to help cool the ski dome. Barcelona receives large, and regular, shipments of liquified natural gas, which has to be kept at temperature of -238°F while in transit. Once it arrives in the city however, it is warmed in seawater to return it to its gaseous state, cooling that water in the process. In the past, that cold seawater was simply returned to the harbor, but the city now has plans in place to start using it to cool buildings in Barcelona, and the new indoor ski resort would be one of them.
The cold seawater would provide approximately 75% of the facility’s energy needs, and create no CO2 emissions. The remainder of the dome’s energy would come from solar panels installed on the roof, which would power the lighting and a variety of other equipment. These two renewable energy sources would combine to make the ski resort completely carbon neutral.
It is estimated that the ski dome will cost approximately $55 million to build, and at this point it is still several years from opening. There are some logistical hurdles for SnowWorld to clear and partnerships to be secured before construction can commence. Once they do break ground however, it will take about 2 years to complete.