The « Lac Blanc » hut in the Aiguilles Rouges range, near Chamonix is located on the famous (TMB) Mont Blanc trail and on the way to the « Aiguille du Belvedere » and « Col des Dards ». With its easy access from the Flegère cable car or from the Col des Montets it is on one of the most visited sites in the Chamonix valley with up to 37,000 visitors each summer.
For many years Jean-Charles Sage, the hut keeper, wanted to reduce the 2,500 liters of fuel (5307 kg of CO2) annual consumption needed for the hut’s energy, with a more environmental friendly solution.
Situated near a lake with drainage, the idea seemed evident, but was a difficult and very expensive (€ 200,000!) proposition to realize: He had to find financial support. The municipality was finally convinced and found other partners such as the Region, the State, ERDF (the French National Electricity Distributor) and Ticos Beyon-Carbon (making carbon offsets) to complete this “Pico Centrale.” project
The instal1ation seems so insignificant that it will be invisible to most visitors.
Leaving the lake the water is directed to a small pipe for an about 60 meters fall feeding a miniature hydroelectric plant (the famous “Pico -Centrale “) which provides electricity for the hut. The turbine, hidden in a small building of a washing machine size produces 6 KWH to provide unmatched comfort to the Lac Blanc hut.
« It allows us the lighting of the hut and the use of electrical appliances in the kitchen, but also heating dormitories » said Jean-Charles Sage
The President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Jean-Jack Queyranne, showed a great interest in the project and hiked to this inauguration, together with the mayor of Chamonix and sixty participants invited by the municipality. (BM)