Pennsylvania Ski Resort Reduces Snowmaking Cost
Year-round resort achieves success with SolarBee water circulator
For skiers and snowboarders at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania, artificial snow is their ticket to getting on the slopes before Thanksgiving. For Seven Springs management, artificial snow is a ticket for a successful season, but it can be expensive to guarantee a solid base from late fall through spring. Seven Springs draws its snowmaking water from a 12-acre reservoir, and officials are always looking for ways to accelerate the cooling of this reservoir water to make snow more economically. After considering multiple cooling options, resort officials settled on a unique solar-powered circulation technology from SolarBee that reduced power usage by 256,000 kW during its first season.
The SolarBee water circulator circulates up to 10,000 gal of water per minute of cold water from the bottom of the lake, creating a water supply of 39°F (where it is most dense) for pumping through the snowmaking nozzles. SolarBee’s Long-Distance Circulation technology pulls water from a fixed depth and moves it at an almost frictionless, or near-laminar, flow through very long distances. The solar-powered, floating circulators operate day and night with a low-voltage motor and onboard battery system.
“We’re always looking for better ways to circulate and cool the reservoir water for snowmaking, but we’re concerned with the water aesthetics as well, so we looked at SolarBee,” said William Cavalcante, the resort’s mountain manager. Cavalcante had considered installing a cooling tower, but rejected the idea because it would be expensive to operate, noisy and unsightly.
The units were installed in late October, and by mid-November Seven Springs was making snow in time for Thanksgiving skiing and snowboarding.
Located in the Laurel Highlands an hour’s drive southeast of Pittsburgh, Seven Springs Mountain Resort attracts visitors year-round, and the reservoir is popular for summertime water activities. “We use the lake for recreation--paddle boats, kayaking, hydro bikes--so retaining the aesthetics of the lake by removing algae growth is as important to us as enhancing our snowmaking capabilities,” said Alex Moser, director of marketing at Seven Springs Resort.
Originally designed for water quality improvement in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, the SolarBee long-distance water circulator provides summertime benefits by preventing and controlling harmful blue-green algae blooms without chemicals. Near-laminar-flow horizontal mixing of ponds and lakes has been shown to be effective in improving water quality. At the level of flow intake, water is drawn in from all directions, pushed upward and then sent out across the surface in a thin layer. Creating enough horizontal and vertical water movement sufficiently disrupts unsightly, large-celled blue-green algae growth and keeps the water clear.
“SolarBee is our year-round answer to keeping our customers happy,” Cavalcante said.