July 14, 2008 / 11:35 AM / 11 years ago

Israel's IDE sells snowmakers to beat warmer winters

TEL AVIV, July 14 (Reuters) - Israel Desalination Enterprises Technologies (IDE) said on Monday it is expanding into refrigeration technology to meet the growing demand for man-made snow as Alpine resorts struggle to beat global warming.

The company sold its first two snowmakers, which cost around $2 million each, to the ski resorts of Zermatt in Switzerland and Pitztal in Austria. They are due to start operating by autumn this year.

IDE Chief Executive Avshalom Felber said the global snowmaking market is worth about $1 billion annually.

“We identified significant economic and business potentials in expanding our operations in these sectors, making them one of IDE’s key growth engines for the next few years,” Felber said in a statement.

Global warming in recent years has resulted in significantly less snowfall in ski resorts around the world, opening the market for man-made snow, Felber said.

The Alpine snowline may retreat by 350 metres by 2050, according to a report by Mueller’s Institute for Leisure and Tourism, leaving a fifth of Swiss resorts without reliable snow.

IDE said its energy-efficient snowmaking machines produce large quantities of snow regardless of the weather, allowing snow production early in the ski season.

IDE, which is equally held by Israel Chemicals (ICL.TA) and the Delek Group DELKG.TA conglomerate, said the technology is also used for thermal energy storage for building and district cooling, district heating, and deep mine cooling.

The company plans to install in 2008 three new units for mine cooling in South Africa. Six ice-making plants were installed at AngloGold’s (ANGJ.J) gold mines in South Africa in the past few years. (Reporting by Tova Cohen; editing by Sue Thomas)

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