Romande Energie, an electricity supplier from Switzerland, has been deploying one of the highest floating solar installations in the world since 2012. And the tech giant ABB has joined forces with the electricity distributor, where ABB’s inverters are to be deployed
Floating on Lac des Toules in Switzerland, this solar park is the newest recruit joining the latest global trend of floating solar energy.
When the land is scarce and costly, the solar technology that makes use of the vast vacant surface that lakes and oceans offer is a very appealing alternative.
What It Takes to Survive Under Extreme Weather Conditions
The floating PV installation is 2,240m in length, situated 1,810 meters in altitude, which is one of the highest floating PV structure in the world.
Fastened to the bottom of the lake by weights, the solar park has the flexibility to rise and fall along with the water.
The high altitude requires the solar farm to be able to endure harsh weather.
- The temperature: -25⁰C ~ 60⁰C
- Hurricane level of wind: 120 km/h
- The snow as thick as 50 cm
- The ice as thick as 60 cm.
The wind could be as strong as 120 km/h (hurricane force). To accommodate such fierce wind, the PV structure is fastened to the bottom of the lake by weights. Hence, the solar park has the flexibility to rise and fall along with the water.
However, extreme weather is not all bad. Yields and efficiency are enhanced as a result. Bifacial solar modules are deployed in the solar structure. They could capture the light reflected off the lake and snow, which increased the efficiency by up to 30%. Therefore the solar park can still function, even when the sun does not shine.
ABB’s PVS-175 Is a Natural Fit for the Tough Environment
Covered by anti-corrosion coating, the inverters can work in fresh as well as saltwater environments.
The PVS-175 boasts 12 MPPT, the highest in the market currently, which provides the inverter the flexibility it needs to operate under harsh weather conditions without compromising the yields.
The inverters are also robust enough to remain operational when the weather turns nasty.
Turning the Alps’ Disadvantage Into an Advantage
A recent study by Switzerland’s WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne has demonstrated the untapped potential of PV installations that are specific to the regions high up in the Alps.
The scientists argued that this kind of system can reduce seasonal downtime of power generation during the winter or other weather conditions that afford lower solar irradiance where fog, clouds, ice, snow are usually present.
“Such mountain installations require significantly less surface area and, combined with steeper panel tilt angles, up to 50% of the winter deficit in electricity production can be mediated,” the researchers explained.