Nearly 5,000 Solar Panels Added to Longest Dam in Switzerland
Switzerland’s longest dam — also the highest dam in Europe — has now been adorned with nearly 5,000 solar panels. The added solar panels help provide additional energy, particularly during the winter months.
The 2.2 megawatt project, called AlpinSolar, will provide about 3.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, with half of that energy provided during the winter. AlpinSolar is expected to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 700 households, as reported by Electrek.
The project is located at the Lake Muttsee dam in the canton of Glarus, Switzerland. Its position more than 2,400 meters above sea level means the site of the project doesn’t experience the same amount of fog found at lower altitudes.
“One of the qualities of alpine solar plants is that especially in winter they produce up to three times more electricity than a comparable facility in the midlands,” Jeanette Schranz, communications lead for renewables at Axpo, Swiss energy producer and owner of the AlpinSolar project, said to Reuters.
Being surrounded by snowy mountains also helps the solar panels with energy generation in the winter, with the highest energy yields expected in February and March. According to Axpo, solar power plants located above the fog line can produce three times more power than plants in lower altitude residential areas during the winter.
“The reflection from the snow also helps and solar panels like the cold and have a higher yield in cooler temperatures,” Schranz explained.
AlpineSolar’s construction was completed in 2022 and has already started producing energy. The project is a collaboration between Axpo, Denner, and utility company IWB, with Denner setting up the country’s first power purchase agreement for AlpinSolar. The project used bifacial glass-glass solar modules manufactured by Megasol.
Axpo plans to install 4,200 solar energy projects around Switzerland, with AlpinSolar helping the company move toward its goal. In total, Axpo expects to reach a solar capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, enough energy to power more than 300,000 households.
With a need to develop another 50 terawatt-hours by 2050, Switzerland’s government created urgent amendments last fall to allow for an easier approval process for solar projects along with added subsidies through 2025, or until total annual production reaches 2 terawatt-hours. Switzerland’s revisions to the Energy Act are expected to make planning and approvals for solar energy projects more efficient.
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