Switzerland builds biggest Alpine solar plant

A vizualisation of how the Muttsee photovoltaic plant will look once completed. Axpo

Work has started on constructing Switzerland’s largest alpine photovoltaic power plant at an altitude of 2,500 metres above sea level.

This content was published on August 20, 2021 - 15:16

The 2.2 megawatt plant is expected to produce enough electricity from its 5,000 solar units to power 740 four-person households.

Energy company Axpo expects the plant to be completed in September. However, weather conditions could affect the timetable as materials have to be brought in by helicopter to the remote site by the Muttsee dam in central Switzerland.

The plant is expected to cost CHF5.5 million ($6 million) but the future electricity output has already been sold, most notably to the Denner supermarket chain that has signed up for this electricity supply for the next 20 years.

It is being built at such a high elevation to avoid fog and low cloud that collects in the region. For this reason, it is expected to produce more electricity than lower-lying photovoltaic plants, including in winter.

Energy plans

Switzerland announced in 2019 that it intends to become carbon neutral by 2050 to meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement.

The alpine state is decommissioning its nuclear power plants and intends to fill the energy gap from renewable sources.

Nearly 50% more solar panels were erected in Switzerland last year compared to 2019, covering 4.7% of Switzerland’s entire energy consumption (3.8% in 2019). But industry body Swissolar says the number of installations will have to increase 15-fold to meet renewable energy targets.

Swiss government plans hit a roadblock in June when voters rejected proposed new laws to curb greenhouse gases.

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