In The Swiss Alps They Integrate Photovoltaic Modules In The Walls Of The Dams

A 2 MW plant is being built in the Muttsee basin in the canton of Glarus. The project is in the hands of the multinational Axpo.

It’s called “PV Muttsee” and it’s Axpo’s new high-rise solar project. The plant, still under construction, will be built at an altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps and, more specifically, in the canton of Glarus.

However, the altitude is not the only qualifying aspect. The plant will be built with 6,000 photovoltaic modules directly integrated into the vertical walls of the Muttsee dam, with a total installed power of 2 MW.

The Muttsee Dam is well suited for photovoltaics. We already have an existing infrastructure connected to the electricity grid and the dam faces south, an excellent location for capturing solar energy.

Christoph Sutter, director of the New Energies section of Axpo.

The project has not yet received the latest permits, but the developer reports that when the facility is fully operational, although with a low production of 2.7 GWh per year, it will provide an important electricity generation model for winter consumption.

Unlike plants in the lowlands, the Alpine PV system generates about half of its electricity production during the winter semester. There are several reasons for this: there is less fog at higher altitudes and there is more incident solar radiation. In addition, the efficiency of the panels is higher at low temperatures and the rays are reflected in the snow layer of the modules, which increases the energy capture.

The test of the new photovoltaic modules integrated into the Alpine dam is a pioneering initiative for the country and, if the results were satisfactory, they could also be replicated, with the aim of helping winter energy production.

As the company itself explains in a press release, Switzerland consumes more energy than it produces during the winter, a factor that will become more and more acute in the coming years when the current nuclear power plants are closed. Axpo is convinced that there is some potential in alpine photovoltaic systems as a possible starting point to support the Swiss Federal Energy Strategy 2050, at the same time producing energy in winter.

It is possible to produce large volumes of energy with photovoltaics. Of course, the Muttsee dam plan is not enough to make a significant contribution. It is necessary to develop other projects. However, this will also require the right conditions in political and economic terms. Currently, the company is negotiating with potential partners interested in the purchase of solar energy generated by the PV Muttsee project within the framework of public-private partnership agreements.

Christoph Sutter, director of the New Energies section of Axpo.

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