The 2010 Solar Prize "confirms our belief that we are on the right track", said Christen Baumann, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG. With its groundbreaking projects, the company is continuing with the series of pioneering achievements that began in Zermatt more than 200 years ago: as early as 1767, the Geneva naturalist and first person to climb the Klein Matterhorn, Horace Benedict De Saussure, conducted the first experiments on the utilisation of solar energy here. With more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year the Matterhorn glacier paradise (Klein Matterhorn) in Zermatt with its viewing platform at an altitude of 3,883 metres above sea level is the sunniest place in Switzerland. The solar Restaurant opened by Zermatt Bergbahnen AG on the south flank of the mountain for the 2008/09 winter season produces all the electricity for heating and ventilation using the photovoltaic system built into the facade. Thanks to the optimised design, the building fulfils the requirements of the Minergie-P standard.
When developing its infrastructure, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG focuses on three pillars. The first of these is efficiency. Renewable energies make up the second pillar and the third is the use of CO2-free electricity in buildings and to operate the facilities.
The design chosen and the energy concept fulfil the stringent requirements of the Minergie-P standard. The entire electricity consumption for heating and ventilation is produced by the photovoltaic system incorporated in the facade. The ventilation at the rear of the facade is a real innovation. It prevents overheating of the solar panels while enabling the outside air used for the ventilation system to be prewarmed. At the same time, 52 centimetres of heat insulation and triple-glazed windows ensure low energy loss. With the goal of retaining all material cycles within the building to the maximum possible extent, appropriate solutions were found for dealing with the scarce resource water. The building is equipped with its own membrane reactor water treatment plant. This allows purified waste water from the kitchens and washrooms to be recycled for flushing toilets.
The Swiss Solar Agency was founded in 1990 as the Solar91 Working Group and, together with the former energy minister Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi, launched the Swiss Solar Prize. The Prize has been awarded every year since 1991. The European Solar Prize adopted the Swiss model and has been awarded since 1994. The aim of the Swiss Solar Prize is the reduction of Switzerland’s international energy dependency of 82% (2006) by the intensified use of solar power through the use of efficient and economical technologies. The Swiss Solar Prize is awarded annually in the following categories: Persons (persons and legal entities, companies, enterprises etc.), Institutions (municipalities, public institutions, cantons), Buildings (new buildings, refurbishment of buildings), and Plants (Solar thermal collectors, photovoltaic plants, biomass plants).