© Edith Danzer
The Glacier.

Electricity in summer, snow in winter

Thanks to the Grubbach hydropower plant, water power produces clean electricity on the Kitzsteinhorn. Three turbines generate sustainable energy. By flipping the lever in fall, the hydropower plant turns into a pumping station that sources water for snow making from high mountain reservoirs.

On the so-called Langwiedboden, melt- and rainwater is collected in the small reservoir near the Gletscherjet 1 top station and used to produce electricity in the Grubbach hydropower plant 460 vertical meters lower.

Sustainable cycle

Water runs down to the Grubbach power plant over a two-kilometer-long pipeline. The power plant is inconspicuous, consisting of an engine room with control panel in a small operation building off the path. In that room, a significant contribution is made to the sustainable cycle on the Kitzsteinhorn, as explains Head of Snow Making, Peter Leo: "The Grubbach pumped storage hydropower plant was built in 2012 and originally equipped with two turbines. It's located right at the exit of the water tunnel that leads to the high mountain reservoirs built in the 1940s. This water tunnel gives us access to the water reserves of the reservoirs Wasserfallboden and Moserboden. When it starts to get cold in fall, that allows us to turn the power plant into a pumping station at the touch of a button, and the water flows through the water tunnel of the power plant Kaprun Hauptstufe over the pumping station directly to the snow-making devices. By using the large Kaprun reservoirs, constructing reservoirs in the high-alpine terrain of the Kitzsteinhorn could be avoided."

Snow machines serve as technical aids to snow guarantee on the Kitzsteinhorn. Head of Snow Making, Peter Leo, is currently servicing the high-tech snow making devices and explains: "We check each machine for its performance in summer to efficiently and resource-savingly start in fall, provided temperatures are low."

By using the large Kaprun reservoirs, constructing reservoirs in the high-alpine terrain of the Kitzsteinhorn could be avoided.

Peter Leo, Head of Snow Making

In the meanwhile, it's humming and buzzing satisfyingly in the engine room. The turbines are already producing clean electricity, for the water has made its way over here from the Langwiedboden in only ten minutes. The turbines turn 300 liters of melt- and rainwater into electric energy each second. "An efficient and sustainable cycle", as Guenther Brennsteiner explains: "The meltwater from the Kitzsteinhorn becomes electricity which is used for snow making via the pumping station in fall. 1.3 million kWh of annual energy can now be produced with the three turbines, covering 33 to 35% of the energy consumption necessary to artificially snow the Kitzsteinhorn. A positive contribution to the energy balance."


Built in 2012
3rd turbine added in 2022
Performance 300 liters per second, 660 KW
Total annual energy 1.3 million kWh
Summer operation generating electricity from melt- and rainwater
Winter operation turns into pumping station for snow making