Mount Hotham, Australia’s highest alpine village, has a lot of energy to manage with its 13 chair lifts, three terrain parks, 35 kilometres (km) of cross-country skiing and year-round guests.
Four hours' drive from Melbourne, Mt Hotham is nestled amongst the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range and considered to be the ‘powder capital’ of Australia - a mecca for all snow and ski enthusiasts.
Being Australia’s highest alpine village (1,861 metres) comes not only with world class views, but a huge operational effort to actively manage and monitor an area 3,450 hectares in size, filled with operational machinery and, most importantly, people!
Such a popular, yet remote resort that caters to year round visitors means effective energy management is critical. To address this challenge, the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board (MHARMB) owns, operates and maintains a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) system at the resort and, in 2018, they received 712.58 tonnes of LPG to service their customers across the resort.
Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) acts as the regulator and conducts regular audits of the LPG system. They require the MHARMB to develop, implement and regularly update a gas safety case as the central compliance mechanism.
The MHRMB’s Environmental Management Plan has set targets to reduce the consumption of energy from fossil fuels by 2021, and greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 38 tonnes. 61% of emissions were due to electricity consumption, and 25% diesel consumption (operation of the 13 ski lifts).
In addition to protecting the indigenous wildlife species within the expanse of the resort from the impacts of a changing climate, resilience from the threats of potential blackouts is one of the main drivers behind the MHARMB’s embracement of renewable energy over the past few years. The Board has set out a series of performance measures at http://take2.vic.gov.au as a part of a whole-of-government target for zero emissions by 2050.
The resort’s Chief Executive Officer Jon Hutchins said previously that besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the establishment of a viable renewable energy system would make Mt Hotham independent of the electricity grid and provide much needed energy security.
‘Being in a remote area, it’s about resilience, and so we have a chance to get off the grid, guard against blackouts, and provide utility for our guests,’ Mr Hutchins said.
The 2018 annual report also highlighted some other renewable programs that have been initiated or recommended:
- Solar-powered lights in the Alpine village as well as photovoltaic (PV) cells on several ski lodges
- The resort chipped in half of the cost for a geothermal heating project at an apartment complex
- An electric car sub-station was installed at a private apartment in the village
- With the elevation (1750m) also comes strong winds, up to 120km/hour. The board’s Master Plan stated that the installation of two 2.3MW wind turbines could produce about 16,300 MWh of energy each year, saving 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The board have been investigating alternative energy production methods such as these
As the dark, dreary seasonal days continue to pass by slowly, especially for those in the south east, perhaps it’s time to consider donning the fluro salopettes and heading up to Australia’s highest alpine village for some winter adventure and joy!
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