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Published on February 7th, 2016 | by RB Team

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New Project Takes River Surfing Indoors: What Are The Ecological Costs?

One of Germany’s first indoor deep water standing waves, the “Jochen-Schweizer-City-Wave”, will open in February 2017 in Taufkirchen, close to Munich. The artificial wave is part of the Jochen Schweizer World, a facility that sells “experiences” such as surfing, body-flying and high-rope courses. A local river surfer sat down with Gabriele Zaglauer-Swoboda from the Green Party to discuss the environmental costs of this facility and to figure out ways for landlocked surfing to remain sustainable in the long-term.

Ms. Zaglauer-Swoboda, you are a member of the municipal council in Taufkirchen, Germany. When did you first hear about Jochen Schweizer’s idea to build an indoor surf facility close to Munich?

Jochen Schweizer already submitted his first request to the municipal council back in 2012. The plans however, had to be revised and the decision on the current plans was made in late 2013.

Is the wave going to be powered by renewable energy or by conventional energy sources like nuclear energy?

Both the indoor skydiving facility and the artificial wave will be powered by conventional energy sources.

Why did your party vote against the indoor surf facility?

In times of climate change it is irresponsible to power an energy-intensive leisure facility with conventional sources of energy. Some developments seem rather absurd: The Floßlände Wave on the Isar River for instance, can only be used to a limited extent because the water is used to generate environmentally friendly electricity. But the new indoor wave will be powered by environmentally harmful energy sources.

The prospects of commercial tax and advertising dollars make many people turn a blind eye.

And at the same time, environmentally harmful energy sources are used to power an artificial wave in an indoor surf facility. Even the district government of Upper Bavaria suggested to power the facility with regenerative energy. This however, was rejected by the planners. Their argument: the power demand would be too high – actually yet another reason to use renewable energy.

What do you think are the chances that Jochen Schweizer will operate the wave with renewable energy? Could the Taufkirchen municipal council made this obligatory?

I think there are few legal remedies. Moreover, the council has hardly changed its view on climate issues. The prospects of commercial tax and advertising dollars make many people turn a blind eye.

What can surfers do to convince Jochen Schweizer not to use nuclear energy for his wave project?

One way is to engage in public relation activities, not only in surf magazines, but also by approaching other media channels. Another opportunity is to raise awareness amongst surfers that enviornmentally harmful facilities should not be used.

In an interview, Jochen Schweizer announced that indoor surfing shall be free of charge. Can you make sense of this?

It is irresponsible to power an energy-intensive leisure facility with conventional sources of energy.

In fact no. Maybe the indoor skydiving facility, which is also part of the centre (and wich is even more energy demanding), and the catering and so on are supposed to yield enough profit to offer surfing free of charge.

Do you know if Citywave will be commissioned to build the indoor surf facility?

The municipal council does not get such information.

For you as a politician, what is your vision for surfing in the greater Munich area?

I guess there are not many politicians in the greater Munich area that have a concrete vision for the sport of surfing. I can only comment on this because my daughter is surfing at the Eisbach Wave. Like everything artificial, artificial waves cannot substitute real waves. I think we should make as many natural waves accessible to surfers as we can.

We should make as many natural waves accessible to surfers as we can.

However, one must not forget that the Isar River is a natural environment that has certain limits which should not be exceeded. From an ecological view, the Eisbach River seems to be optimal: it is located in the middle of the city, accessible by public transport, it does not do harm to nature, it is free of charge and it has become a tourist attraction – there should be more of this kind in the future!

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RB Team

The editorial team of Riverbreak is a loose connection of passionate river surfers. As a group, we strive to give the larger community a voice on an international level. Our mission is to connect river surfer around the globe.



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