- Alpiq and partners have unveiled what they term as the largest solar PV installation in Switzerland with 18 MW capacity
- It will be equipped with bifacial solar panels, at around 2,000 meters to 2,200 meters above sea level in the municipality of Gondo-Zwischbergen
- The CHF 42 million project will supply electricity generated to the nearby Gabi substation via underground cables
- Project partners believe Gondosolar Project will be economically viable provided it receives the maximum subsidy of 60% from the federal government
Swiss electricity producer and energy trader Alpiq has announced plans to deploy bifacial solar panels for the ‘largest’ solar PV installation in Switzerland and the ‘largest’ high-alpine PV project in the Alps, with 18 MW capacity, at between 2,000 and 2,200 meters above sea level.
A joint project with the municipality of Gondo-Zwischbergen, local power plant & grid operator Energie Electrique du Simplon (EES) and project initiator that also owns the land Renato Jordan, it will be located above the Valais village of Gondo that shares its border with Italy. Alpiq is the main shareholder in EES and will manage the project that’s expected to incur a cost of CHF 42 million ($45 million).
Gondosolar Project will be designed to take up around 100,000 sq. mtr. area above Gondo and on completion it will generate close to 23.3 million kWh of electricity annually which will be transported via an underground cable and the nearby medium-voltage grid to the existing Gabi substation. To access the site for construction purpose, they plan to install a temporary cable car.
High alpine regions, though cold, have a lot of solar radiation due to the advantage of being above the clouds. With bifacial panels, the sunlight reflection on white snow increases production. A May 2021 EPFL study claimed that adding solar capacity in the Alps to capture winter sunlight and combining it with existing hydropower already generated can cut the amount of energy Switzerland has to import in winters by some 80% (see EPFL Study Recommends Solar & Wind In Swiss Alps).
Project partners believe the Gondosolar facility has the potential to become a ‘showcase project’ for the energy transition.
The proposal is currently awaiting regulatory approval, while the canton of Valais have given in principle support, according to Alpiq. “A comprehensive feasibility study ultimately concludes that the project is not only environmentally and technically feasible, but also economically viable, provided that the federal parliament enacts the subsidy model and Gondosolar receives the maximum subsidy of 60%,” stated Alpiq. Once all approvals including for subsidy are in, the facility should be up and running within 3 years.
Switzerland’s ‘1st’ largest scale alpine solar plant with 2.2 MW capacity 2,500 meters above sea level on Mutsee Dam, planned by energy utility Axpo Holding in Glarus South municipality, started generating electricity in October 2021 (see Construction Begins On ‘Largest’ Swiss Alpine PV Plant).