Europe’s highest dam is now covered in nearly 5,000 solar panels

The Lake Muttsee Dam – the longest dam in Switzerland and the highest in Europe at 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level – now hosts nearly 5,000 solar panels, making it the country’s largest alpine solar system.

The solar project is called AlpinSolar, and it was set up by energy firm Axpo, discount chain Denner, and utility IWB – all Swiss companies. Denner has a set up a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for AlpinSolar’s power – it’s the country’s first PPA. Installation was completed in 2022 and energy production has begun.

The 2.2 megawatt solar project is attached to the dam wall of the hydroelectric power plant. AlpinSolar will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 700 households.

The solar array, which is almost 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) wide, will produce 3.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – half of it in winter. That’s because Lake Muttsee, which is in the central Swiss canton of Glarus, isn’t prone to fog since it’s at such high altitude, and the snow reflects the sunlight onto the solar panels.

Jeanette Schranz, communications lead for renewables at Axpo, told Reuters:

One of the qualities of alpine solar plants is that especially in winter they produce up to three times more electricity than a comparable facility in the midlands.

Solar panels like the cold and have a higher yield in cooler temperatures.

In fact, the highest yields from AlpinSolar are expected in February and March, but overall, the solar array’s output is expected to be relatively balanced over the entire year.

The project used 4,872 of Swiss manufacturer Megasol’s bifacial glass-glass solar modules. The modules’ 40-mm frame is designed to be able to handle AlpinSolar’s expected snow load.

Axpo says it aims to install 4,200 solar projects in Switzerland by 2030.

Read more: Check out this massive Swiss ‘water battery’ that can power up to 900k homes

Photos: AlpinSolar

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