Focusing on zeroing and ecological independence is the goal of all ski consortia. But one of the districts where the decision to disengage from gas and oil is now a fact is the area of San Martino di Castrozza-Passo Rolle. To the point that the entire territory of the Valle di Primiero and Vanoi at the foot of the Dolomites has been certified by Legambiente as al 100% Renewable.
“Snow has an immense value, we don’t just think about skiing”
by Cristina Nadotti
A 60 km ski area of ski slopes, with 18,000 residents who have reached theenergy autonomy produced entirely from green sources. Especially water and wood. A virtuous community, but also economically advanced given that the 10 municipalities of the valley collect profits every year by reselling thecertified energy as renewable: in the latest budget, they amounted to one million and 200 thousand euros which ended up straight into the coffers of the municipalities which reinvested them in structures and services.
The history of the Primiero valley and its community, which saw the disasters of the climate emergency in advance and clearly, begins in 1902 and with the construction of two dams. Now it continues to be the story not only of companies and administrators, but of an entire community that understood the economic damage deriving from dependence on fossil fuels and started talking about energy autonomy 120 years ago.
“With the photovoltaic on the roof I no longer depend on the electricity grid”
by Cristina Nadotti
It all started with two dams
Ivan Fontana he is the human resources manager of ACSM, the group of energy companies born from the old consortium electricity company of Primiero. Explains Fontana, nephew of the engineer who built the two dams and from which it all began: “Ours is a former municipal company born precisely in 1902. From the beginning in these parts we have always done more or less by ourselves to produce energy. Using what we had on the ground, water and wood. Now with our 17 hydroelectric plants we produce 450 million kilowatt hours a year: ten times more than what we consume and which is around 45 million. We put the rest back on the network and sell it: a part of the earnings is divided among the municipalities that are part of the consortium, another part we invest in new projects”. So every year a new initiative is added, always on the sustainability front .
Climate, without snow at 1500 meters above sea level: the bleak spectacle of Cimone seen from the drone
“Which ones are they the buildings and plants that work with hydroelectricity? Practically everything in this valley: from hotels, even historic ones, to ski resorts; from high altitude refuges to private homes; from schools to sports facilities” Ivan Fontana is keen to underline. And after the water, the wood.
The district heating system
In San Martino di Castrozza 90% of the buildings are connected to the district heating system built in the 2000s. Hundreds of families have long ago eliminated gas and oil boilers. “The plant produces 80 gigawatt hours of heat per year – explains Fontana – and is fed by waste both from sawmill processing waste and from forest waste. The pipes run all over the country, but they are invisible because they are buried. All the municipalities of the Valley have in fact decided that in order not to deface the landscape, nothing is placed externally. The same goes for the electricity grid.”
How district heating works: advantages and disadvantages of networks with a lower environmental impact
by Pietro Mecarozzi
Heating prices here in San Martino di Castrozza do not depend on gas prices. At the moment, they do not seem to be affected by the energy crisis. The idea of district heating was born thinking of a solution for thecircular economy sawmills, one of the key sectors in these parts together with tourism. “Once upon a time, the wood processing waste were disposed of at high cost. Now the wood, the untreated one, is brought to the heating plant – the ACSM human resources manager continues – it also comes from our forests which by ancient law are the property of the municipalities. Let me be clear, we only use forest waste that is within a radius of 70 kilometers, otherwise there would be problems with transport and therefore pollution”.
A heritage, that of the forests on the peaks of the Dolomites, which follows ancient and rigid rules concerning the safeguarding of the regeneration process. In fact, every municipality every ten years monitors and studies its share of the forest and carries out a “Forest management plan” where the areas and plants that can be used for district heating are listed. No danger of deforestation therefore, given that the forests of Primiero and Vanoi are recognized with the Pan European Forest Certification.
The free energy market has not been taken into consideration by the residents here for some time. At least as long as there is water and wood. An energy crisis-proof community? For the majority of the inhabitants of this valley at the foot of the Dolomites, sustainability is part of their history.