In order to maximise its green energy production in the winter months, Switzerland built a solar power plant on the Muttsee Lake dam optimally oriented towards the south, at 2,500 metres above sea level, that produces around three times more electricity in the winter than a comparable solar plant in the midlands.
The solar project is named AlpinSolar, and has been fully operational since the end of August 2022. Around 5,000 solar panels have been attached the country’s longest dam, able to produce 3.3 million kilowatt hours of energy yearly, enough to power around 700 houses. “The reflection from the snow also helps, solar panels like the cold and have a higher yield in cooler temperatures,” says Jeanette Schranz, spokesperson for Axpo, the firm responsible for the project, meaning, the 2.2-megawatt solar project is not dependent on the weather.
The pioneering project is part of Axpo’s goal to install 4,200 solar projects by 2030. “The solar is taking a more important part in the power mix in Switzerland. This is something really important for the Axpo Group, we want to develop 1.2 gigawatts by the year of 2030. So, this is also something we want to build in the mountains,” Schranz told Reuters.
There are 682 hydroelectric power stations in Switzerland that produce around two thirds of the country’s total electricity. Only 4 of Switzerland’s 5 nuclear power plants have been in operation since 2020, the country aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. According to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, “with its 220 dams, Switzerland has the highest density of dams in the world, including the highest gravity dam: the 285-metre-high Grande Dixence in the canton of Valais, which generates energy for 500,000 households each year.”