Cetursa will test snow farming, that is, the cultivation of stored snow, for the next ski season in Sierra Nevada. The objective is to guarantee a smooth start to the season due to the lack of snowfall.
These artificial snowfields are offered, according to the technical specifications published by the public company that manages the station, as an "efficient, effective and ecological storage system, maintaining the hydrological cycles".
Snow farming is spreading around the world after proving to be a promising technique for conserving snow from the previous season.
Snow storage in Kitzbuhel
Cetursa has already put this contract out to tender to find a company to take charge of the design, transport, supply, assembly and maintenance of these snow deposits for an amount of 120,000 euros.
The documentation published by the Junta de Andalucía in its bidding portal specifies that it is expected to contract what is necessary to protect a "snow pile" of about 15,000 cubic meters approximately, always in the area of the skiable domain, in a place that would be chosen by Cetursa and by the company awarded the contract. The system must guarantee that at least 70 percent of the snow to be stored is available.
The same document includes a "hypothetical mound" as "orientation", which has a "rectangular prism" nine meters high, 18 meters wide and 60 meters long, and four triangular prisms, nine meters high each.
The contractor must maintain this snow from April to December 2023, and will be responsible for transferring to Cetursa the technical knowledge, the necessary equipment s and "an accompaniment" for the snow farming to work.
In the eventthat at the beginning of the season 2023/24 the loss of snow by melting or other factors, exceeds 30 percent of the initial volume, it will reimburse the total cost of the contract to Cetursa. "This would terminate and terminate the contract. The awarded company would collect and take away its equipment used for the construction of the snow accumulation," explains the technical specifications.
Sketch of what the mound will look like, extracted from the technical specifications.
Cetursa will pay half of the costs of acquiring the system to carry out this test and, if the planned objectives are met, the other half upon completion.
In the event that the season was "especially dry" and the accumulation of snow "could be affected, not being able to reach the minimum required by the project (15,000 m³), Cetursa will inform the company awarded this eventuality as soon as possible".
The estimated dates for the beginning of the construction of the snow pile will take place between the months of April and May.
In Spain the pioneer of snow farming has been Candanchú, where in 2018 the snow was preserved from the heat buried in straw. In other places, tarpaulins are used.
"Once the season is over, it will be assessed whether its application is feasible this season for the following season or, what currently seems more likely, from the following season to the next," they conclude from Cetursa.