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Snow Pod for Cheaper Machine-made Snow

joshua segal

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I'm interested in any feedback or impressions on the Snow Pod prototype described below.
See https://www.renewsnow.ski/general-5 for FAQs.

ropeways.net | Home | Slopes | 2022-10-13

Saddleback signs MOU with ReNewSnow​


ReNewSnow is pleased to announce Saddleback Mountain, Maine's third-largest ski resort, has agreed to be the host site for ReNewSnow’s first SnowPod prototype. The device will recycle snow melt from a high elevation ditch and supply one or more snow guns for an entire season. “This is an experimental unit, which we will use to test our technology in the harsh operating environment of Saddleback Mountain, perhaps the harshest of any ski-area in the northeast. We plan to collect valuable data, which will allow us to continue to fine tune and refine our design,” said Peter Stein, President and Chief Scientist of ReNewSnow.

“Saddleback Mountain is always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. We are delighted to host ReNewSnow’s team and are eager to see their findings,” said Jim Quimby, General Manager of Saddleback Mountain.

“The prototype will demonstrate the simplicity and effectiveness of the SnowPod. We believe, our technology will revolutionize snowmaking by lowering its energy costs by up to 50% and reducing its water supply expenses and carbon footprint by more than 80%,” said Vittorio Pareto, CEO of ReNewSnow.

About ReNewSnow
ReNewSnow addresses both the economic and the environmental impact of snowmaking. Its technology allows ski resorts to recycle water from melting snow high on the mountain for use in snowmaking operations, eliminating the cost of pumping it from legacy sources across several miles and thousands of feet up the mountain. The system is designed to be fully automated, meet local permitting and regulatory requirements, and to be seamlessly integrated into the ski area’s existing snowmaking operation. With no upfront cost, ski areas can immediately cut snowmaking expenses by up to 50% and can reduce their water supply costs and carbon footprint by more than 80%.

https://www.renewsnow.ski/
 

machski

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So, I'll start off by saying this won't get any traction in Vermont IMHO. First, the company says it's system reduces the need for electricity from sources creating CO2. Well, Vermont proudly says it is 100% renewable so now need for added costs to cut down there. Second, this system would tap mountain stream sources which are already contested water use sources in Vermont. Multiple snowmaking and even lift/trail designs have been hindered or halted by Act250 mountain stream concerns. So good luck there.

The balance of this technology?? Who knows, their FAQ's given some extremely thin proclamations of their technology, but no where near enough detail. For a system of say the size of Sunday River's, I can't see this water being much more than a drop in the bucket of what they source from the river. Not to mention SR has one of the highest pressure systems out there. Especially midwinter in anything close to a typical winter of deeper cold. Saddleback would be a good venue to test this technology, let's hope it is a typical winter with deep cold to see what happens.
 

skiur

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100% of the electricity produced in Vermont is from renewable sources, but that only accounts for about 33% of the electricity used in Vermont.
 

IceEidolon

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On the surface this reminds of the failed experiment at 10e back on 2003-2005 or so.
If I recall correctly, that was an early version of the Snowfactory or Lattitude90 all weather snowmaking systems. While also not practical to run a resort off of, this doesn't replace traditional snowguns for actual snow production.
 

cdskier

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I've read a lot of the FAQ material on the website and still don't really see how this will work. The water "collected" by these pods still needs to be pressurized. And how much can each pod actually store? I'd imagine the amount of water used by each gun during snow-making is pretty substantial and feel like these pods would be drained pretty quickly.
 

Newpylong

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My first impression (and the impression given on the web page) was that one of the touted advantages was that it did not require any pumping at all and thus reduced the carbon footprint.

It doesn't take a scientist to realize it is impossible to pressurize run off to 200 psi without the use of a pump. The prototype going in at Saddleback with have a 60 amp pump. That said, whatever water that is readily collected by these pods from run off will be consumed too quicky to put any meaningful product down. I have seen my fair share of subsurface streams still flowing all around the hill during winter, it could be enough to run a gun, or two... but that's it. If it were that easy, runoff alone would be enough to fill snowmaking ponds vs filling them manually.

Then there is the question of scalability. If local pumps are needed to pressurize the water to get it to the equipment, at what point is this not cost effective any longer over a centralized distribution system (with much higher water volumes)?

So, I call BS.
 

IceEidolon

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It looks like they expect one pod to supply about one gun's worth of water and send the rest down the stream (generating momentum for the next pod to harvest) and one of their videos says in some [my guess - most] cases they'll need a booster pump to reach system pressure - but it's still a net savings because all the transfer pumps and head pressure losses are avoided, again, per their marketing material.

They've got to extract over 1 useable HP just to run one Ratnik at 20 GPM at 100 PSI. I just don't see adding $10k to the cost of one snowgun for a turbine, pump, controller, enclosure, etc when it's going to save maybe ten cents per hour operating cost, when it has enough flow to function?
 

thetrailboss

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If I recall correctly, that was an early version of the Snowfactory or Lattitude90 all weather snowmaking systems. While also not practical to run a resort off of, this doesn't replace traditional snowguns for actual snow production.
Yeah. Tenney briefly had a refrigerated system of some sort that manufactured snow like a snow cone machine. Sounds like this system is retrieving water, storing it, and then using it to make snow. Interesting idea in concept but not very realistic.
 

cdskier

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I've read a lot of the FAQ material on the website and still don't really see how this will work. The water "collected" by these pods still needs to be pressurized. And how much can each pod actually store? I'd imagine the amount of water used by each gun during snow-making is pretty substantial and feel like these pods would be drained pretty quickly.
 

joshua segal

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On the surface this reminds of the failed experiment at 10e back on 2003-2005 or so.
Really no comparison. The Tenney system works in almost any weather. The ReNew Snow system still requires sub-32 degrees.

Aside: The Tenney system (as far as I know) is still being used at Ober Gatlinburg. It required lots of electricity. I really think that if Tenney didn't try to make it work in July and August, they might have done OK if they tried for an Oct. 1 opening, advertising: Bring your kids here in the warmer weather and by the time other areas open, your kids will be ready to ski. I think that would be a good marketing thing for Big Snow American Dream in NJ.
 

IceEidolon

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Beech Mtn has one going for their tubing hill and there's another tubing operation in Florida with one.
 

thebigo

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Going to use crotched as an example because they are 100% fan gun and the pond is front and center.

When a drop of rain falls on crotched it has potential energy. From the perspective of snowmaking, the potential energy is a function of the elevation difference between the pond and the location where the drop hit the mountain. The potential energy is 100% solar. Currently the aforementioned potential energy is lost while the drop finds a stream enroute to the pond. The potential energy is then regenerated in the winter at peak rates while pumped back up to the snow gun.

If you could somehow figure a method to store that drop of water at the snowgun you would not have to consume the electricity to pump it back up the mountain.

I have not looked into the ROI but as an engineer with nearly two decades in the hydro industry the lack of snowmaking reservoirs at elevation has always bothered me. I also have no idea how many gallons a fan gun consumes but a gravity fed polyethylene reservoir below the frost line with submersible centrifugal pump is intriguing.

The example of crotched is convenient but think how far killington pumps their water? Miles?
 

IceEidolon

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One gun might use 200,000 gallons at a Poconos resort, plus or minus a hundred thousand. I've gotten close to a million gallons in a season through a fixed tower fan on a wide area, but that's atypical.

200,000 gallons per acre-foot of snow is a useful rule of thumb.
 

thebigo

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Good info. 200,000 gallons is more than i would have guessed.

Burying a 20,000 gallon tank beneath a water bar would have an impact. The 20,000 gallons is not finite, it would of course charge during the summer but also recharge with every freeze/thaw event, rain, whales draining, etc.

ROI would probably work best with areas in marginal climates and remote water sources.

Or think about north ridge at k. What percentage of that early season snow melts? They replace it with water from miles and several thousand vertical feet away.
 

Newpylong

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Where are you going to store water at elevation or close to every (fan) gun that is using on average 75 gallons per minute? 20,000 gallons would last 4 hours. Youre going to bury a tank per gun? To last 4 hours? What about pressurization of the water? Even IF you could get adequate flow rate, the pressure must be boosted. Once you start adding little bitty pumps all over...

It doesn't add up and once you begin to figure out scale, any advantages dry up (no pun intended).

Summit water storage (where an operator is lucky enough to have room and permitting for them) on the other hand can make a real world difference.
 
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