A Technological Breakthrough: Switzerland Put Vertical Solar Panels On Roadside Retaining Walls

By: | December 10th, 2023

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Driving Toward Sustainability

The canton of Appenzell Ausserhoden in northeastern Switzerland is accelerating its shift to sustainable energy with a pioneering project. They have installed 756 glass-glass solar panels vertically on an existing roadside retaining wall. This innovative approach maximizes space usage and aligns with the canton’s goal of achieving 40% renewable electricity by 2035.

Vertical Solar Panels Take Center Stage

In Switzerland, a 325 kW solar panel system on a 75-degree retaining wall generates 230,000 kWh annually, powering 52 households. The PV system is anchored with an adhesive technique, and components are anodized for corrosion resistance, including stainless steel screw anchors.

The project maximizes space by affixing solar panels to an existing retaining wall, reducing the need for extra land. This repurposing of infrastructure demonstrates a thoughtful approach to renewable energy. Additionally, utilizing the roadside retaining wall lowers construction costs compared to traditional rooftop solar systems, providing economic benefits. The vertical orientation of the panels enhances the landscape aesthetically, contributing to a positive public perception of renewable energy projects.

Challenges and Considerations

However, potential drawbacks of the project include concerns about lower efficiency with vertical solar panels compared to angled ones, which may impact the overall energy yield. Shading from nearby trees or buildings is another challenge, reducing electricity generation. Maintenance for vertical panels could be more challenging, leading to increased costs and logistical complexities over time.

In conclusion, the Appenzell Ausserhoden solar project creatively repurposes existing infrastructure for energy generation, offering space and cost advantages. As the project progresses, its performance will be watched for potential inspiration in other regions, emphasizing the importance of diverse approaches for a sustainable future.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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