electricity production with solar plants for the greenhouse gas balance that is lucrative. Only there’s a Problem: demand and production are often in opposite directions. Solar arrays produce the most electricity in the summer, however, the power consumption in the Winter is highest. As it is time saving, there is currently little capacity for long, it is difficult to increase the share of solar power in the energy Mix.

researchers in Switzerland have now proposed – at least at first glance – an unconventional solution: A Team is Not Bald from the Swiss Federal Institute of technology in Lausanne (EPFL), suggests that solar farms in the mountain regions of fluctuating electricity demand the time of year better to cover than plants in the lowlands. In addition, they needed less space.

In the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” prior to the count, the scientists, the production of electricity in different heights and with different inclination of the solar angles of the developed panels in the course of the year. The study will look at the Switzerland, the results were, however, similar regions, the authors write.

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the starting point of the scenarios, the phase-out in Switzerland, adopted the atom. Has been studied now, an energy mix, in which half of the existing Swiss nuclear electricity is replaced by solar power. With conventional systems, in the flat country, a solar cell area of about 57 square kilometers would be necessary, according to the scientists.

the solar fields in the mountain regions above the winter snow line, increasing the productivity for three reasons: first, the atmosphere absorbs at higher altitudes, less solar radiation, the cloud cover in the Winter is in the height of which is less than in the flat country, and the snow reflects in the Winter a lot of sun light.

to take advantage of the reflected light in the Winter, would have to put the solar panels with an inclination of 65 degrees is significantly steeper than in the Swiss lowlands, where the optimal tilt angle is about 37 degrees.

perpendicular solar cells would be no Problem

Such a mountain installations come according to the researchers, with approximately 47 square miles of solar cells surface, about one-sixth less than in the flat country. Due to their increased winter productivity you might need in addition to the seasonally fluctuating electricity better than conventional solar farms in the flat country. The mountain-solar power would reduce the gap between production and demand at least around half.

to avoid snow cover, could be mounted the solar panels in the mountains, completely vertical, stress the researchers. As a result, the winter is declining productivity.

the Potential environmental impact of mountain-solar farms have not investigated, the researchers in the study. “The direct impact depends on the existing infrastructure,” said Kahl on demand. “If you choose a remote place that has no road access, connection to the electricity grid, the impact is greater than if you installed the equipment on existing buildings and other structures in a village, a ski resort or water power plants.”

The Expansion of solar energy in already developed areas is preferable, and in the Alps already, large parts of the mountain regions, were to be provided with the appropriate infrastructure, said Kahl. This more precise estimate, further studies will be needed.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.