Study suggests solar energy a good option for mountainous Swiss regions

Posted: January 9, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, research
Tags: , ,

Snow-covered Swiss Alps [image credit: BBC]

We *suggest* the researchers are being wildly over-optimistic here. Snow landing on solar panels and ruining their effectiveness seems like an obvious hazard, for example.
Other practical difficulties in mountainous environments are not hard to imagine either.

A trio of researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has found that solar panels could provide a lot more power for Switzerland than has been previously thought, says TechXplore.

In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Annelen Kahl, Jérôme Dujardin and Michael Lehning describe their feasibility study of solar panel use in mountainous Swiss regions using satellite data.

As part of Switzerland’s Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, the government has decreed that all of the country’s nuclear power plants will be phased out when their useful life has ended—and no new plants will be built to replace them.

Furthermore, all new power must come from renewable resources. Some might suggest this is a risky move, considering that currently, the country gets approximately 35 percent of its power from nuclear plants and just 5 percent from renewable resources.

But the country might have a previously unnoticed advantage—its high, snow-covered mountains. In this new effort, the researchers report evidence that such mountains could be used for generating a lot of electricity using solar panels.

Continued here.

  1. cognog2 says:

    Another information bereft press release. No mention of nighttime backup requirements et al. All hidden behind a paywall. Loads of questions – No Answers.

  2. oldbrew says:

    the country gets approximately 35 percent of its power from nuclear plants

    Like it or not, that amount of power can’t be replaced by part-time land-hungry solar power.
    – – –
    Tips for Solar Power Users in Snowy Climates

    Bounce a tennis ball off snow-covered panels.
    Homeowners who have rooftop solar panels installed can surprisingly increase the energy output by bouncing a tennis ball off the snow-covered panels. The small divots created by the tennis ball help begin the snow shed process and allow sunlight to reach the modules and begin converting energy.

    Install solar panels at the largest angle possible.

    They’ll need a lot of tennis balls 😂

  3. HM says:

    By happenstance a 2016 study analyzed ERoEI of solar panels in mid-latitude/mid-insolation locations, focusing on Switzerland

    Just 9 months later a ‘comprehensive response’ came out, by a whopping 25 co-authors

    Why should be clear just from this part in the first paper

    “It is estimated that these numbers could have an error of ±15%, so that, despite a string of optimistic choices resulting in low values of energy investments, the ERoEI is significantly below 1. In other words, an electrical supply system based on today’s PV technologies cannot be termed an energy source, but rather a non-sustainable energy sink or a non-sustainable NET ENERGY LOSS.”

    I have never seen caps in such a paper before. The response said

    “They use out-dated information, make invalid assumptions on PV specifications and other key parameters, and conduct calculation errors, including double counting.”

    My superficial impression is the 2nd paper is daft. Their very first section is about battery storage

    “As discussed elsewhere … the inclusion of large amounts of energy storage in the analysis of an individual grid-connected electricity production system (in this case, PV) implicitly shifts the goal of the study from the assessment of its intrinsic net energy performance to the assessment of its ability to, by itself, support the entire societal demand for electricity. Specifically, if the goal of the study is the calculation of EROI for an additional PV installation in current Swiss conditions, the inclusion of battery storage is unnecessary – to date no battery storage is required for grid-connected PV plants in Switzerland or anywhere in the world.”

    “to date”?? uh that would because nuclear and coal provide baseline power. The Greens plan on getting rid of that. Everyone understands this except the second paper’s 25 authors, it seems.

  4. ivan says:

    the government has decreed that all of the country’s nuclear power plants will be phased out when their useful life has ended

    Since this is an on going item with a lot of countries that have nuclear power it is beginning to look like a SF story with a virus or parasite causing the brains of politicians to be taken over by the slimy green blob, why else would they try and reduce their populations to the status of surfs?

  5. Annie says:

    There was a link by a commenter (GregNZ) on Jo Nova to the Grossglockner live webcam. Nothing to be seen except the blurred image of snow on the lens!

    [reply] that’s in Austria but we get the idea 🙂

  6. hunter says:

    It has come to my mind that what “energy = freedom”.
    Those who despise energy for all are enemies of freedom.

  7. Gamecock says:

    ‘As part of Switzerland’s Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, the government has decreed that all of the country’s nuclear power plants will be phased out when their useful life has ended—and no new plants will be built to replace them.’

    Kabuki theater. The Swiss government has no authority over the 2050 government, which will do what it wants to do. It doesn’t even have authority over the 2020 government.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Wherever they plan to get their electricity from after dark, why not get it from the same source during the day? Only solar needs sunlight, so a fortune could be saved.

  9. Roger Andrews says:

    Having done a little work on solar, allow me to offer the following insights:

    The problem with solar in the Alps isn’t panel efficiency but the summer/winter generation range, which at Alpine latitudes (46-47N) amounts to a factor of five or ten. So if you want to make full 24/365 use of your solar generation you have two options:

    1. Store the surplus summer power for re-use in winter, as discussed in:

    2. Install enough solar capacity to cover winter demand and curtail the summer surpluses, as discussed in:

    Neither option is particularly attractive regardless of how efficient your solar arrays are.

  10. oldbrew says:

    The Swiss could never replace nuclear with solar, and nor could any other country although Germany has blown a fortune on a failing wind/solar policy.

    Roger A – enough solar capacity to cover winter demand

    And pray that snow doesn’t settle on the panels? Sounds medieval 😆
    [see no. 6]

  11. Gamecock says:

    Mounting panels on a roof seems easy enough. Mounting panels on an Alp seems prohibitive.

  12. Eric Johnson says:

    Many comment on the vistas of anywhere being blighted by very large windmills. Be interesting to see how Swiss Tourism will market the Alps plastered with large PV panels resembling postage on a large parcel.

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