02.05.2022 | Winter power in the Valais Alps thanks to an innovative project

From satellite dish to solar plant

Jeanette Schranz

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For the first time in Europe, satellite dishes will be lined with solar panels and generate important winter power. The pioneering project is being realised by the Axpo subsidiary CKW in the Valais Alps. 

The nearly three dozen satellite dishes belonging to Signalhorn AG are clearly visible aloft at an altitude of approximately 1000 metres. Now, obsolete dishes can be utilised for a new purpose: They are being converted into solar plants. Solar panels will be mounted to the dishes and deliver power for the "in-house" computing centre.

Above the clouds

Solar plants in the Alps offer several advantages: At high altitudes, like in the town of Leuk in the Valais, there is a lot less fog and hence, a lot more solar radiation. The pioneering project will generate important winter power. Another advantage of satellite solar plants is their adaptability: Satellite dishes can turn and flexibly align with the sun. In addition, solar plants like the cold. The efficiency of solar modules is higher at low temperatures. 

No place for vertigo

It all sounds easy, but when looking taking a closer look at what is involved in mounting the solar panels it becomes clear that this is not a place for someone with for vertigo. "Only technicians that are not afraid of heights can work at 40 metres above the ground," says Manuel Jossi, Project Manager at CKW. In this pioneering project particular attention must be paid to the overall statics and surface characteristics of the plant. "Since this is a concave dish, the installation of the solar panels requires new solutions, " Jossi says.

The installation work takes about three to four weeks before the solar power can be produced from the satellite dish.

"Since this is a concave dish, the installation of the solar panels requires new
solutions." Manuel Jossi, Project Manager at CKW
Important for the energy transition

The energy transition still needs a number of other innovative solar projects like the plant in Valais. Axpo is a pioneer in this area and is taking on a leading role in the development of solar energy. This has already been demonstrated at AlpinSolar, an Axpo pioneering project realised at the Muttsee in cooperation with IWB and Denner. In Switzerland, the company wants to further increase its contribution to the expansion of renewables and realise power plant projects in the range of CHF 1 billion by the year 2030 with its subsidiary CKW. In doing so, Axpo will support domestic power production and promote the development of valuable winter power. Given the right framework conditions much more would be possible.

Axpo has calculated how important solar energy is for the energy transition in a scenario. More about the power mix of today and tomorrow in the Power Switcher

More on the energy transition: www.axpo.com/energiewende-schweiz 

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