Pilot ski resorts attest PROSNOW ‘s potential to fill the current gap in effective water, energy and snow management

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The “post-season” evaluation of the PROSNOW® demonstrator by the pilot ski resorts, following the real-time testing in the winter season 2019/20, has been completed. The evaluation particularly focused on PROSNOW®’s added value as perceived by the pilot ski resorts and their willingness to pay (WTP) for PROSNOW® services.

Areas of application for which pilot ski resorts consider PROSNOW® as useful particularly include snowmaking decisions for the upcoming hours and days, the optimization of water and energy use, resources planning in general, avoidance of snow overproduction, and internal/external communication.

How responding pilot ski resorts assess PROSNOW®‘s usefulness for different areas of application

The “uncertainty surcharge” due to imperfect knowledge about upcoming weather and snow conditions currently accounts for a noticeable fraction in total snow production and related water consumption as well as in total snow management operating costs. Depending on the pilot ski resort, respondents expect that perfect knowledge would reduce the amount of technical snow needed by up to 45 %, the amount of water needed by up to 40 %, and total snow management operating costs by up to 20 %. Hence, there is obviously room for a service that is able to enhance the ski resorts’ current anticipatory capabilities. Based on their experience from the testing season, some pilot ski resorts expect to be able to save up to about 16 % of current snow management operating costs by using PROSNOW®.

Even though some pilot ski resorts experienced problems with the demonstrator during real-time testing, the majority indicated to be willing to pay a non-zero price for the PROSNOW® service in its current form. Directly stated WTP ranged from 2 500 € to 10 000 € per season, without any further conditions. Some resorts indicated to be also willing to pay at least 11 500 € under particular conditions (e.g. refunding of the price in case of the exceedance of a predefined forecasting inaccuracy, completion of a completely successful testing season, etc.). Deriving respondents’ WTP indirectly by systematically varying selected product attributes in a limit conjoint analysis resulted in maximum chargeable prices between 7 400 € and 12 700 € for the respondents’ most preferred product packages.

Overall, the pilot ski resorts’ “post-season” evaluation of the PROSNOW® demonstrator and its (potential) added value was quite heterogeneous, ranging from very positive overall evaluations to the feedback that the (high) expectations could not (yet) be met. Whereas for some resorts, the service is already satisfactory in its current form, others see the need for further development and improvement before being ready for the market. Nevertheless, even in those pilot ski resorts where problems with the demonstrator limited or prevented extensive testing, the project strengthened the conviction that the planned system could fill the current gap in effective water, energy and snow management. Thus, they would appreciate the development of PROSNOW® to be continued.

For further details on PROSNOW®’s “post-season” evaluation by the pilot ski resorts, take a look at deliverable D4.4 Report on the perceived added-value of the service from a users’ experience.

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