Switzerland has launched an innovative project known as “AlpineSolar”. Nestled high in the...
AlpineSolar: Harnessing Solar Power in the Alps

27 May 2024

The photovoltaic installation at the Muttsee dam in the canton of Glarus produces on average up to three times more electricity in the winter months than solar plants in the Central Plateau. Source: Axpo Group.

Switzerland has launched an innovative project known as “AlpineSolar”. Nestled high in the Alps, this photovoltaic installation exemplifies how advanced technology and environmentally-conscious management can coexist to create a sustainable future. The project leverages the unique climatic conditions of high altitudes to maximize solar energy production, offering a promising model for similar initiatives worldwide.


The concept

Switzerland’s largest alpine solar installation is fully operational since the end of August 2022. The alpine system, located on the Muttsee dam at 2,500 metres above the sea level, is producing around three times more electricity in the winter months than a comparable system on the Central Plateau, as it can benefit from its location above the fog and snow reflection. The system will make an important contribution to the energy transition and supply solar power to bridge the winter electricity gap. AlpinSolar was realised in collaboration between Axpo, IWB and Denner. The latter will purchase all of the solar power for the first 20 years of operation as part of a power purchase agreement and use it for its shops.
The 2.2-megawatt solar installation is producing around 3.3 million kWh of electricity per year of which approximately 50% during the winter months. This winter electricity is in great demand in the electricity mix, as Switzerland needs significantly more renewable production capacities, especially in the cold months of the year.


The complicated status of alpine solar installations

Alpine solar plants are still rare in Switzerland. This is because there is currently no de facto legal basis for authorising solar installations outside of building zones. Since 1 July 2022, the revision of the Federal Act on Spatial Planning has brought minor improvements in terms of construction on facades, dams and noise barriers. However, for the expansion of renewables and a stronger energy supply in Switzerland, open-space installations should also be considered.
In this context, the Federal Council has decided to submit the amendment of the Federal Energy Act and the Electricity Supply Act to a popular vote on 9 June 2024.
For the Federal Council and Parliament, the project is urgently needed, as it makes a significant contribution to ensuring the reliability of Switzerland’s electricity supply, it is compatible with nature and landscape, and it is a concrete step towards reducing the use of fossil fuels.

See also
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Federal Act on a Secure Electricity Supply
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