The move is expected to cut carbon emissions from the equipment by up to 90%.
Operator, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited (CMSL), has issued a tender to biofuel traders on the National Fuels Framework to supply the centre with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), as a replacement for diesel.
HVO is a premium quality second-generation biofuel made from renewable, sustainable raw materials. The fossil-free fuel can be used in many modern diesel engines and off-road machinery.
Last year the centre introduced a snow factory and added eight new snow cannons with funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which owns Cairngorm estate.
These currently run off diesel-powered generators as an interim measure until the mains electricity supply can be upgraded.
CMSL plans to replace the diesel with HVO by the end of December. HVO will also be used in the centre’s two road-clearing Unimog truck and CMSL has approached the manufacturer of its new piste grooming vehicle for confirmation that it too can be run on HVO.
Changing to biofuel aligns with the Scottish Government Climate Change Plan to drive down emissions by using innovative solutions to protect and enhance our natural environment.
Susan Smith, CMSL interim chief executive, says making greater use of green energy is very much part of the company’s plans for the future. She said:
“At Cairngorm we are ever conscious of our carbon footprint and constantly looking at ways to reduce this.
“Snow making has become hugely important for the Scottish snow sports sector. At Cairngorm it enables us to create a wonderful ski area on lower slopes for beginners and to operate ski tows to take more experienced skiers and snowboarders to higher levels when conditions are good.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have identified a fossil-free fuel made from renewable, sustainable raw materials that can power our diesel run equipment.
“We have issued a tender to the market this week to source a supplier. All going well we could be using HVO across the estate early in the new year.”
Dave MacLeod, head of property and infrastructure at HIE, added:
“Ultimately, we want to have all the snow making equipment at Cairngorm running off electricity, which will require an upgrade of the mains supply network. SSEN is carrying out a feasibility study into different needs in the area. Once this is complete we will be clearer about the options for Cairngorm.
“In the meantime, HVO will go a long way to cutting emissions. We are also reviewing the potential to generate energy at Cairngorm from renewable sources such as hydro, wind and solar.”