Tropenhaus Frutigen, Frutigen

Educational Site · Tourist Spot
The Tropenhaus (English: Tropic House) in Frutigen, Switzerland, is a commercial project using geothermal energy from hot water flowing out of the Lötschberg base tunnel for the production of exotic fruit, sturgeon meat, and caviar in a tropical greenhouse in the Swiss alps. In 2007, the project received the Prix Evenir, the Swiss petroleum industry's CHF 50,000 award for sustainable development.
The idea for the greenhouse was born in 2002 when it became apparent that the water continuously flowing out of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel could not be directly diverted to the local river, the Kander, as its temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) would disrupt the biological rhythm of the endangered trout there. Rather than cooling the water artificially, wasting its thermal energy, tunnel engineers founded a start-up company to use the warm water to heat a greenhouse. Construction of the site, which started in May 2008 at a cost of CHF 28 million, was completed at the end of 2009 and visitors were welcomed that same year.

A sturgeon farm, one of few in Europe, is the heart of the Tropenhaus. Some 60,000 fish are intended to be grown in 40 outdoor basins. The sturgeons thrive in permanent Siberian summer conditions and are intended to yield 20 tonnes of meat as well as two tonnes of caviar annually. The first sturgeon fillets were sold in local stores in November 2008. The rest of the greenhouses are dedicated to the production of exotic fruit, such as banana, papaya, mango and guava, of which about 10 tons are intended to be grown annually in an area of 2,000 m2 (21,500 sq ft).
The Tropenhaus is also intended to be a tourist destination, with a visitors' centre, a visitors' trail through the installation, a restaurant, and an exhibition room (paid for by a Bernese energy company) showcasing the project's use of renewable energy and sustainability. It is located some 600 metres (2,000 ft) or 7 minutes' walk from Frutigen railway station.
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  • At a time when tourism rates are deplorably low all over, it is rejoycing to see that somme businesses can afford to remain closed 2 days a week....  more »
  • We took an organized tour there recently, my husband's club, that is, with me along. Before the guided tour we had a drink at the restaurant which nestled neatly in the interior, thus surrounded by...  more »
  • Very interesting! The dessert is awesome, and some design in the garden is educational and very funny~
  • Amazing tropical plants, bananas, papaya, avocado, mango, chillies, breadfruit, dragon fruit, jackfruit.. Oh coffee and tea plants too and much more. If you are in luck and some of the fruit has been harvested you can buy them in the on site shop.
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