Basel energy supplier IWB is planning an alpine photovoltaic system on Käserstatt in the Meiringen-Hasliberg ski area. In addition to lots of sun, the location has other decisive advantages. It has a powerful grid connection and a disused mountain restaurant could house transformers and rectifiers. There is already an access road through which materials and construction machinery can be accessed close to the project perimeter.
- IWB is planning an alpine photovoltaic system together with local partners on Käserstatt in the Meiringen-Hasliberg ski area.
- Thanks to its ideal location, the system is intended to supply renewable, local electricity for around 4,500 households - a large part in winter, when we need the electricity most
- The proximity of the location to the tourist facilities results in many advantages during construction and operation.
Sun, snow and cold are the prerequisites for as much solar power as possible in winter. The areas above Käserstatt in the Meiringen-Hasliberg ski area meet all of these criteria. The region is therefore an ideal location for the large Alpine PV systems that have been funded by the federal government since autumn 2022. Stefan Wittwer, Head of Procurement Portfolio at IWB, says: “With an Alpine PV system in Hasliberg, which we implemented together with local partners, we are making a concrete contribution to the energy transition. The proximity of the location to the tourist facilities results in many advantages during construction and operation.
The construction of the facility offers various synergy opportunities. At the same time as the project, the mountain railways will expand their snowmaking systems within the framework of their approved development regulations, and the farmers will receive additional cattle troughs. The previous agricultural use will continue. In addition, landowners and local communities should benefit from usage fees and taxes.
Area already in use
The project perimeter is located above the tree line at an altitude of between 1900 and 2100 meters above sea level, hidden behind the Leitistöck. This means that the facility can hardly be seen from Hasliberg. It is located in an area heavily used by tourists in the immediate vicinity of the ski area. The use of untouched landscapes is thus avoided and the area is well developed with access roads. There is also a powerful underground grid connection that was renewed a few years ago. This already ensures that the electricity produced can also be transported away. Within the system, electricity is transported using direct current. This avoids larger buildings in the perimeter. Inverters and transformers needed to feed the electricity into the grid can be installed in the former mountain restaurant.
Electricity for around 4,500 households
According to initial investigations, a maximum area of around seventeen hectares is possible. The module tables with a total output of 12 megawatt peak are to be set up here. This would make the system one of the medium-sized projects among the currently planned Alpine PV systems and could supply around 17 gigawatt hours of electricity for around 4,500 households. The panels would be placed sufficiently above the ground so that they do not sink into the snow and alpine farming is still possible underneath. Panels for alpine systems can also convert sunlight reflections on the back of the modules into electricity. Thanks to their orientation and location above the fog line, the modules produce almost as much electricity in winter as in summer. The electricity yield from alpine PV systems is actually highest between February and May. This is the time when the Alps are covered in deep snow and the days are getting longer. This makes alpine PV systems the ideal complement to electricity production from hydroelectric storage, whose levels drop quickly in spring before the snow melts.
Basel has been relying on renewable electricity for decades
For the Basel energy supplier IWB, the PV system on Käserstatt is one of several large PV projects in Switzerland. IWB offers its customers exclusively renewable electricity. In line with this strategy, IWB has been one of the largest investors in domestic hydropower for decades. With early investments in the Juvent wind farm in the Swiss Jura and AlpinSolar in the Glarus Alps, IWB is also a pioneer and pioneer for ecological and domestic electricity production. IWB also plans and builds large solar systems on industrial buildings, noise barriers along motorways and on a former waste dump.