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World's First Mountain Solar Farm

Jan 27, 2023


The project won the Swiss Watt d'Or prize, for the best in renewable energy innovation.

Researchers worldwide are turning to innovative methods for seamlessly fitting renewable energy technology into spaces that already serve another purpose, reducing the need to set aside acres of land for technologies such as solar farms. At the same time, such a project would prevent water loss from evaporation and would also keep the solar cells cool, making them more efficient. 

One of the present examples comes from Romande Energie, who built a floating solar farm on a reservoir in the middle of the Swiss Alps, a report from Euronews explains. Solar panels work better at higher altitudes, and that has been demonstrated again after the world’s first mountain solar ranch proved to be 50 percent more efficient. 

The Alpine effect: Three factors come together to enable this high-altitude solar farm to produce up to 50% higher energy than one on low-lying land: the frosty temperatures, stronger UV rays, and light reflected from the surrounding snow. Photovoltaic cells are more efficient in cold weather, as Fuchs points out. Söderström also highlights the prospects of this choice of location for generating power, mostly during winter: "There's much slighter fog at an altitude of 1,810 meters than lower down. The snow reflects the sunlight, so the panels can harness more energy – a phenomenon known as the albedo effect. 

The project won the Swiss Watt d'Or prize, for the best in renewable energy innovation 2020. The solar farm is located at an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level on the Lac des Toules reservoir in Valais, Switzerland, which formerly served as a hydropower station. 

Guillaume Fuchs, the project's leader, told Euronews that the pilot project produces approximately 800 megawatt-hour production per year — roughly the need of 225 households. 

Bill Gates is to sign a partnership with Europe to build clean technologies, and the rest of the world seems to be in the race as well. Innovative new ideas are surfacing with the progression in technologies and with the world now focused on increasing the utility of renewable energy sources, it is obvious that ideas are working towards meeting the rising demands.

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