The Monte Rosa hut sparkles in the sun like a rock crystal in the untouched and spectacular glacier landscape. It has a relatively secluded location at the foot of the Monte Rosa massif at 2,883 metres above sea level between the Gorner, Grenz and Monte Rosa glaciers. In an interview, hut warden Richard Lehner explains how the hut supplies itself with energy at this exposed location.
Mr Lehner, you took over the Monte Rosa hut in 2019. How did this come about?
Richard Lehner:“Together with my business partner Kilian Emmenegger, I previously managed the Gandegg hut for six years. When the lease of the Monte Rosa hut became vacant, we started a new project together.”
Solar panels were installed on the roof of the former hut back in the 1980s. What has changed since then?
Richard Lehner:“It’s true that up here we are considered pioneers when it comes to solar energy. Even back then, there were solar panels on many huts. They were used to charge a small battery that supplied parts of the hut with electricity. Today we have more powerful solar panels, but the principle has remained the same. Today, the solar panels are located on the entire south façade and in the solar park next to the hut.”
In this way, they produce more than 90% of the energy for the hut. What is the energy used for?
Richard Lehner: “The hut is futuristic. It has been upgraded with the latest photovoltaic technology. This will allow us to generate all the electricity for the hut. We also have a system that heats and stores the hot water. This allows us to heat the hut if necessary, which is especially necessary in spring. The big innovation here is the control of the building services.”
The software that controls the building services was developed by ETH Zurich. What’s so special about it?
Richard Lehner: “We can access the hut’s entire technical system from our laptop. We can see in real time how much electricity is being produced, regulate the heating and control other technology in the building – even when we’re down in the village.”
Background: Monte Rosa hut
Much has happened between the opening of the Monte Rosa hut in 1895 and the present day. You can find the full story here.