A solar power plant with some 6,000 PV panels along the Swiss Muttsee dam walls (as imagined in the picture) over a surface area of 10,000 m2, will be a novelty among solar projects globally and shows the versatility of PV technology. (Photo Credit: Axpo Holding AG)
- Axpo is working on a 2 MW solar PV array to be deployed on the walls of Muttsee Dam at Limmern pumped storage plant
- Panels installed at an altitude of 2,500 meters will ensure there is good sunlight, less fog hence will be able to generate more power during winter months when available power supply isn’t enough in Switzerland
- The location has existing infrastructure and grid connection where the plant is expected to generate 2.7 GWh of solar power annually
- Axpo is currently also negotiating long term PPAs with potential customers to sell this solar power to
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Swiss energy utility Axpo Holding AG plans to install solar PV panels on the walls of a dam with 2 MW capacity in the Alps. The vertical solar array which Axpo terms as the ‘first large-scale alpine solar plant’ is expected to generate about half of its power production during winters to make up for the power shortage the country faces during the harsh cold season.
Available power during winter months in the country is not enough to suffice the population and PV projects in central part of the country see their production volumes drop during the season with snowfall and cloudy days. Hence, the idea to deploy panels on higher altitudes and on innovative locations as dams are being explored by Axpo.
The PV Muttsee project on Muttsee Dam at the Limmern pumped storage plant will have close to 6,000 solar panels covering a surface area of 10,000 m2, expected to generate 2.7 GWh of clean solar power annually.
Solar panels will be installed at an altitude of 2,500 meters. Choosing such a high altitude location to place the panels is because there is less fog higher up and more solar radiation, Axpo explains. Sunlight is reflected by the snow cover and PV modules are more efficient at low temperatures.
“The Muttsee dam is extremely well suited for photovoltaics. We have the existing infrastructure with a grid connection and the dam has a southern exposure with optimal sunlight,” said Christoph Sutter, head of New Energies at Axpo. “Furthermore, the plant is located at an altitude of 2,500 metres and will deliver a great deal of power, especially during the winter months.”
The utility will submit a building permit application soon but it is already negotiating long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) with potential partners to sell solar power generated from the plant. It is also planning to approach the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) to include it in the list of ‘lighthouse’ projects. It sees alpine photovoltaic plants as a possible starting point to support the Federal Energy Strategy 2050.