Solar Panels Go Up and High in the Mountains

What are the General Advantages of High-altitude Solar?

Even though we associate having solar panels in sunny and hot regions, panels’ efficiency drops remarkably in very high temperatures. So, cooler temperatures are ideal for increased efficiency, which is the case for the Swiss Alps. Also, at this altitude, the sun rays fall just at the right angle on the strategically placed panels. They get the additional rays reflected by the snow-covered slopes – the phenomenon is known as the Albedo Effect. In another research about high altitude solar applications, Dr. Annelen Kahl of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne says that using satellite data from various locations across Switzerland, their research “shows the differences between summer and winter sunlight shrink with elevation. Once you get above 2,500 meters (8,200 feet), there’s more sunlight during winter than at lower elevation during summer – enough to keep the lights on.” Overall, in higher altitudes, stronger solar irradiation and lower temperatures pose significant advantages. The clean air in this area means less dust and fog – a big plus for keeping the solar panels cleaner for a more extended period.

Some Issues to be Resolved

However, the concept of high-altitude solar is still being researched, and this application at the Swiss Alps is only a demonstration project which produces “800.000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to power 220 households.” Factors like the higher cost of power delivery, lack of grid connection in some high terrains, and higher installation costs due to accessibility issues need to be resolved.

Future Visions for the Lake Toules

Romande Energie’s wind and solar projects’ leader Fuchs announces that they are trying to get a permit for building a more extensive and more permanent application on the same lake. The project has undoubtedly caught the attention of residents, tourists, and investors. It also provides valuable observational data to researchers trying to solve the challenges that high altitude solar energy applications bring.


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