The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Swiss high Alps soon peppered with solar systems? They could cover up to two thirds of the electricity demand


Switzerland wants more solar energy. One possible lever: subsidies. Construction plans in the Alps, however, split opinions.

Switzerland wants more solar energy.

One possible lever: subsidies.

Construction plans in the Alps, however, split opinions.

Geneva - For US astronaut Buzz Aldrin, it's the most amazing landscape he's ever seen - and he's been on the moon before.

At least that's how he described the Saflischtal in the Swiss canton of Valais at an altitude of more than 2000 meters in a 2015 commercial.

Now nature is in danger there, say landscape conservationists.

A gigantic solar system is planned for the mountain village of Grengiols, the size of 700 soccer fields.

And not only there: Dozens of projects have been launched since Parliament promised billions in subsidies.

There is a gold rush atmosphere in Switzerland.

Solar systems in the Alps: Switzerland offers investors up to 60 percent compensation

In Grengiols, around 600 members of the Saflischtal interest group are mobilizing against the plans, including Ulrike Steingräber-Heinen.

She is from Magdeburg, worked for nine summers as a shepherd and cheese maker in the region and is now married to a local farmer.

Solar power is important for reducing greenhouse gases, she tells the dpa.

“We have our own photovoltaic system on the roof.

But the aim cannot be to destroy nature in order to protect nature.”

The new energy law facilitates approvals for alpine projects and promises money.

But anyone who wants to do this has to hurry: "Systems that feed at least some electricity into the power grid by December 31, 2025 will receive a one-time payment from the federal government of a maximum of 60 percent of the investment costs," according to the law.

"Solar power bonanza in the mountains" wrote the

Neue Zürcher Zeitung


Solar systems in the Alps: the height of the systems means efficiency

Suddenly the Alps are no longer just a leisure paradise with pastures for the production of good mountain cheese.

They could also help Switzerland out of the energy dilemma.

"We have a lot of areas that would be suitable in terms of solar radiation," says Jürg Rohrer from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

The lecturer for renewable energies is a pioneer of alpine solar systems.

What makes them so attractive is that they deliver good electricity even in winter because they are usually located above the blanket of fog, are very efficient when it is cold and benefit from reflections from the snow.

Rohrer has had a test facility with various solar modules near Davos since 2017.

"In winter, they produce three to four times as much electricity per area as plants on the Swiss Plateau," he says.

So far, the potential has been practically unused: apart from a small solar system in Austria, according to him, there is nothing in the Alps in the open.

Solar systems in the Alps: Two thirds of Switzerland's electricity requirements could be covered

"We could produce 40 terawatt hours with alpine systems," says Rohrer.

What is meant is the annual production, and that would correspond to around two thirds of the annual electricity requirement in Switzerland.

"But you have to keep in mind that the areas have to be reasonably accessible." There are other renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, or solar capacity on roofs and on highways.

He considers alpine solar systems with a potential of around five terawatt hours per year to be realistic in the next few years.

This would require a total area of ​​30 square kilometers, as much as 4,200 soccer fields.

That's little compared to 4,635 square kilometers of bare land, he says.

For many residents of Grengiols and the surrounding area, however, the project planned by the municipality and the local electricity company is a nightmare.

They advertise resistance with a photo montage: they artificially placed thousands of solar panels on a photo of untouched nature for illustration purposes.

Whether it would ever look like that is of course unclear.

"Solar systems look like rock formations from a distance if you build them cleverly," says Rohrer.

Solar systems in the Alps: Residents are opposed to solar projects

"We graze our animals there in the summer," says Steingräber-Heinen.

"The alpine pastures are poor anyway, but the construction with concrete supports, ground anchors and so on would damage the turf to such an extent that grazing would no longer be possible." The area is part of the Binntal Landscape Park, established in 2011 to preserve the beauty of the region .

Sabrina Gurten, a biologist from Grengiols who is also fighting the project, speaks of "faunistic and floristic treasures" in the area.

Depending on the exact location of the plant, there is a risk that species will become extinct locally.

The Alpine protection organization Mountain Wilderness Switzerland is mobilizing against another project in Valais, in Gondo.

Before the untouched and undeveloped nature is built over, one should first expand the potential with systems on buildings and infrastructure, it says there.

Rohrer is also concerned that solar parks are now being planned quickly everywhere because of the deadlines for the subsidies.

"They failed to include quality criteria," he says.

"The crazy thing is that it doesn't matter at all for the subsidies whether it's a good or bad location."


Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-01-29

You may like

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.