Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I invest?
ReNewSnow is the only company that addresses both economic and environmental impact of snowmaking. It provides a sound investment opportunity that also helps ski-areas achieve their carbon-neutral objective, consistent with ESG principals, by dramatically reducing the energy required to make snow. Our patented SnowPod technology will upend this $500M industry by lowering snowmaking costs by as much as 30% and dramatically reducing it's carbon footprint.
Why should ski-resorts be interested?
Snowmaking can represent as much as 67% of the energy consumed by ski resorts. It's a huge expense, which drives up ticket prices, making skiing increasingly out of reach for many families. The energy needed to make snow means more fossil-fueled power plants, and every year more artificial snow is required. Our technology will lower snowmaking costs by as much as 30% and can eliminate more than 80% of the greenhouse gasses generated in the snowmaking process. Our technology may also allow resorts to extend the season and cover distant, hard to reach, trails.
What is the upfront cost for a typical ski-resort?
Zero. Ski-areas will have no upfront costs and realize an immediate 30% annual savings.
If the system is free, how will ReNewSnow make money?
ReNewSnow will charge by the volume of water used, thereby generating a dependable, recurring, and growing revenue stream. These installations will be secured by contracts in which the ski-areas agree to lease or license the system for several years.
Is there enough water?
The ultimate source of all the water in a mountain is precipitation (rain and snow). This water flows out of the mountain in three ways: (a) A portion is returned to the atmosphere directly by evaporation or indirectly by transpiration (absorption by plants); (b) A portion is absorbed into the mountain, eventually replenishing aquifers, or emerging on the surface as springs; (c) The remainder flows on the surface (streams) and is ultimately discharged into lakes and rivers.
Hydrologists refer to the relationship between precipitation and surface runoff as the “water balance.” Our SnowPod system is designed to capture runoff from springs and streams.
Surface Runoff = [Precipitation] -[Evaporation and Transpiration] - [Absorption]
Surface runoff flow rates exhibit significant seasonal variation. Water losses to evaporation and transpiration will generally peak in the spring and remain high throughout the summer months. Similarly, evaporation losses will peak in the summer when ambient temperatures are high. In the winter, losses to evaporation and transpiration are at a minimum, as temperatures are low and plants are dormant, but some precipitation remains on the surface as snow. In the spring, evaporation increases, and plant absorption grows, but this is more than offset by snowmelt resulting in peak runoff flow rates.
The amount of runoff available at each ski-area will depend on local climate and geology. The US Geological Survey, a government agency, tracks river water flow rates throughout the United States and publishes comprehensive historical records. This information is generally not available for small mountain streams and springs, but we can use the USGS data from nearby rivers to estimate the seasonal variation in their flow rates.
The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study publishes well-respected detailed historical information on mountain steams in a 7,800 acre hardwood forest in New Hampshire. While the geology of every mountain is unique, the Hubbard Brook data enables us to estimate the percentage of precipitation that is absorbed by a “typical mountain” in the Northeast, and to validate the seasonal water flow estimates we developed using USGS data from nearby rivers. We also spot checked the accuracy of these estimates by measuring the actual flow rates at several mountains in northern New England at different times of the year.
Information on precipitation is published by regional airports throughout the United States. By combining this data with satellite imagery of ski-areas, we were able to measure the collection area and calculate the precipitation patterns at almost any ski-area in the US.
Our analysis suggests we should expect to see sufficient winter-time runoff to supply 50% to 100% of a ski-area’s snow-making needs, depending on local conditions (topography, climate, and geology). This represents less than 4% of the total winter time precipitation.
Doesn't a typical snow gun require pressurized water?
Yes. The SnowPod system will extract water from springs and streams and deliver it to the ski-area’s legacy snow-making system, or directly to a snow-gun. In some cases, the elevation difference between the water source and the delivery point may be sufficient for our system to deliver the water at the required inlet pressure. But in most cases, ReNewSnow will need to install a booster pump, drawing power from the electric service supplying the snow-gun.
Wouldn’t the booster pump use up all the energy savings?
No. Water pumped from legacy sources also needs to be pressurized before it can be used to make snow. The energy needed to do this does not change. ReNewSnow will eliminate the energy required to pump water from distant rivers and lakes up the mountain, which represents more than 80% of the total needed to make snow, but it does not change the energy required for other purposes.
How will you overcome the regulatory barriers?
Water extraction is regulated by various state agencies, including the local zoning board, and compliance can be expensive and time consuming. The amount of water that can be drawn from each source is strictly limited but controlling and tracking the water extraction in harsh winter conditions is difficult. Locations may be hard to reach, and in many cases, there is no electricity to power systems to monitor and control the flow rate. ReNewSnow's patented SnowPod system extracts enough energy from the water flow to power control systems for an entire season. This allows the operators to monitor the stream’s flow rate and control when to extract water. The system will also track the amount of water extracted and generate compliance reports automatically. We will work with the agencies in each state to obtain all the necessary installation permits and to ensure the system remains in full compliance..
What if the ski-resort's electricity is powered by wind or solar?
Our SnowPod system is not an energy source; it is a way to reduce a ski-area’s energy consumption. Resorts using our system will not need to use energy—from any source—to pump water up the mountain from distant rivers and lakes. Ski-areas with renewable power generation, such as wind and solar, can sell the excess power back to the grid, potentially displacing other carbon intensive generation downstream, such as coal or biomass. Either way, by using less energy, the resort will reduce its carbon footprint.
Resorts using our system will also lower their operating costs. We will install and maintain the SnowPod system at our own expense and guarantee the ski-area a 30% savings compared to the cost of pumping the water using their legacy systems.
Moreover, while solar power emits no carbon, it does impact the environment. Huge tracks of land must be cleared for solar panels, often wiping out wide swaths of forestland. Forests play an important role in combating global warming by converting carbon into oxygen. A 14-acre facility would be required to power the pumps at a medium sized ski-area on a sunny day, 45 to 140 acres would be required on cloudy days. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 7.6 acers of cleared space is needed for just 1 MW of power (Ong, S., Margolis, R, “Land-Use Requirements for Solar Plants,” NREL, Technical Report, June 2013).
Wind power is also carbon free, but the warming impact of the “wind-shadow” effect contributes to global warming directly. If all U.S. electric power was supplied by wind, surface temperatures would increase by 0.24 C, according to Harvard University researchers. Satellite images confirm this effect, according to the National Science Foundation.
While wind and solar are better than fossil fuels, all forms of power generation have a negative impact on the environment.
How will the system tie into a ski-resort's existing snowmaking system?
Snowmaking systems at most ski areas resemble the frame of an umbrella. Water is pumped up the mountain through a large pipe (the UP-pipe), and then down individual trails in smaller pipes (DOWN-pipes), which supply water to the snow-guns. Our system can connect to the nearest “DOWN-pipe” or to a snow-gun directly. To ensure the water is delivered at the required temperature and pressure, our system may include an adjustable radiator (to lower the water temperature) and an electric powered booster pump (to increase the water pressure).
If pumping water is so expensive, why hasn’t this been done before?
Most ski-areas have high-elevation springs and streams but until now the technology to gather and funnel this water in an efficient and cost-effective manner has not been available. Snowmaking requires large volumes of water and individual high-elevation mountain streams are not large enough to supply the necessary quantities. To obtain enough water, ski-areas would need a multi-stream collection and distribution system. However, such a system would be difficult to operate in harsh winter conditions. High-elevation streams are often in hard-to-reach locations and the surrounding snow can make them inaccessible, or difficult to reach, in a timely manner.
The need for manual operation can be avoided by employing remote control valves, but many high-elevation streams are in locations with no access to external power. Batteries, which could be used to store the required energy to operate remote control equipment, may not last for an entire season. Extreme temperatures, common in most ski-areas, can damage sensitive electronics. Water left inside the network could freeze, potentially rupturing pipes. Groundwater is extracted from underground water tables can emerge at temperatures well above freezing and would need to be cooled before it could be used for snowmaking. In addition, water extraction is intensely regulated by various government agencies, requiring permits, monitoring, and regular reporting at every collection point.
These and other obstacles have prevented ski areas from sourcing their snowmaking water needs from high-elevation sources, and while the snow-making equipment has become more efficient, the water pumping methodology used to supply water has not changed in more than 50 years.
Our patented SnowPod technology addresses these problems and aims to make it simple for ski-areas to use high-elevation water. Moreover, resorts using our SnowPod system will save 30% compared to the cost of the electricity needed to pump an equivalent volume of water from their legacy source.
Additional benefits, which we have not quantified, include: (a) reducing or eliminating the carbon footprint associated with snowmaking, (b) the potential for extending the ski-season by taking advantage of lower operating costs, (c) the potential for adding snowmaking to trails not currently covered by legacy water supply systems, (d) the opportunity to eliminate the capital required to replace or expand legacy water supply systems, and (e) the potential to lower legacy system maintenance costs, since they would experience less wear and tear. (f) faster recovery from rain events by using legacy water supply networks in combination with our SnowPod system.
Who is going to maintain the system?
We will carry our routine maintenance and repairs by using a network of pre-qualified and trained field contractors. The ski-areas will operate the equipment.
In the northeast, ground water can emerge at 50F. Isn’t this too warm for snowmaking?
Yes. When necessary, the SnowPod system is designed to lower the temperature of the water. The degree of cooling is controlled automatically by the system, or manually by the operator, to ensure water is delivered within the inlet temperature range specified by the snow-gun manufacturer.
My mountain draws water from a reservoir located above the skiable terrain. Why would they need this system?
Ski areas sourcing water from high-elevation reservoirs do not pump water up the mountain, and therefore would not benefit from our SnowPod system.
Who is going to manufacture the components?
We will source components for the prototype from various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and assemble the system in our lab. Once the first version of the system is finalized, we plan to outsource manufacturing. We have not selected a company to do this work at this time.
Do you have another question?
While we are offering shares, all questions and answers need to be posted on our InfraShares site. Click here to register at InfraShares and post your question.