A wall of solar panels has been connected to Switzerland’s highest dam to maximize green energy generation during the winter months when a drop in rain and meltwater reduces hydropower production across the country.
The Lake Muttsee dam in the central Swiss canton of Glarus is almost 2,400 meters above sea level and surrounded by snow-capped peaks, which the AlpinSolar project team describes as a crucial benefit.
“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,” said Jeanette Schranz, communications lead for renewables at Swiss energy producer Axpo.
The solar project is named AlpinSolar, and it was created by the Swiss energy provider Axpo, discount chain Denner, and utility IWB. Denner has established the country’s first long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for AlpinSolar’s power. The installation was finished in 2022, and energy generation has started.
The 2.2-megawatt solar project is linked to the hydroelectric power plant’s dam wall. AlpinSolar will generate enough electricity to power around 700 families.
The solar array, about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) wide, will generate 3.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, half of which will be developed in the winter. This is because Lake Muttsee, located in the central Swiss canton of Glarus, is not prone to fog.
Solar panels produce more energy in colder temperatures. The biggest AlpinSolar yields are projected in February and March, but the solar array’s output is expected to be relatively balanced throughout the year.
The installation used 4,872 bifacial glass-glass solar modules from the Swiss company Megasol. The modules’ 40-mm structure is designed to withstand the predicted snow load from AlpinSolar.
Axpo intends to build 4,200 solar plants in Switzerland by 2030.