Photovoltaic Power Plants Located in High Altitudes - Some Case Studies

Several systems located in high altitudes were put into service in recent years. In Europe most of these facilities are located in austrian and swiss Alps and in Asia in India and China (Himalaya, Tibet). Many of them are located higher than 2,000 m above sea level. Interesting application example is Clean Energy path at St. Moritz - three different solar power systems around the funicular of Corviglia at Piz Nair, a mountain close to St. Moritz (Switzerland): one at the beginning of the funicular with round about 9 kWp, one parallel to the route with about 18 kWp and the third on the peak, more than 3,000 meters above sea level, with 14 kWp.


Mauna Kea Gemini Observatory PV Solar System, courtesy: maui pacific solar Mauna Kea Gemini Observatory PV Solar System, courtesy: maui pacific solar

Mauna Kea, Gemini Observatory PV Solar System.
Commissioned in 2015, the highest elevation roof-mounted PV solar array.
(copyright/courtesy: Maui Pacific Solar, Jay's Energy Equipment)

Lhasa PV System

OSolar in January 2011 announced the completion of the company's utility-scale, single-axis tracking system in Lhasa, Tibet, commissioned by Longyuan (Beijing) Solar Engineering Technology Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Guodian Group. The project is a 10 MW PV power plant and OSolar provided 394 kW of its world-class single-axis tracking system. According to the company, the single-axis tracking system at this site will deliver an estimated 20 % more annual energy per kW than a fixed tilt PV system. This plant is located at an altitude of 4,300 meters - one of the highest located PV power plants.

Name and location Lhasa PV System
PV system type Fixed tilt + tracking
Operates since 2010
Rated power 10 MW, 394 kW tracking

TABLE 1: Lhasa PV System, technical data

Jungfraujoch PV system

PV power plant is located at Jungfraujoch, 3,454 m above sea level, in Switzerland. It has been operating successfully since 1993 with a 100 % availability of energy production and monitoring data. Operation in high altitudes puts a very hard stress on all the components. The solar array consists of 24 Siemens 48 Wp modules with a rated power of 1.1 kWp. In 2005 PV plant Jungfraujoch (effective peak power 1.13 kWp, 3454 m above sea level), which was erected in 1993 by the PV laboratory of the Berne School of Engineering and Information technology, has established a new record for normalised annual energy production in 2005. Despite a line interruption of one day (23.8.2005) in the valley, in 2005 1537 kWh/kWp were produced with a winter energy fraction of 48.5 %. Thus the old record dating from 1997 (1504 kWh/kWp) was trespassed considerably. Without the line interruption, in 2005 the production would have been even 1540 kWh/kWp. In the average of 1993 to 2005, PV plant Jungfraujoch has produced 1407 kWh/kWp with a winter energy fraction of 46.3 %. In 2014 new Jungfraujoch PV power plant with 3 kWp was commisioned.

Name and location Jungfraujoch PV system
PV system type Grid-connected
Operates since 1993
Rated power 1.1 kW
Annual yield 1400 kWh
Number of modules 48 Siemens Solar cSi modules
Module mounting Fixed Tilt angle 90°

TABLE 2: Jungfraujoch PV system, technical data


Birg PV Power Plant, courtesy: Berner Fachhochschule Jungfraujoch PV System, credit: Berner Fachhochschule

Jungfraujoch Power Plant, right, Birg PV power plant, left
(courtesy: Berner Fachhohschule, PV-Labor der HTI)

Birg PV power plant

The PV plant Birg (4.134 kWp) is located at 2,670 m above sea level (Station Birg of the Schilthorn cableway) and it has been operated since 1992. The PV array is mounted vertically at the outer wall of a cableway station and is oriented nearly exactly towards south. Average annual energy production in the time period 1995 - 2002 was 1,063 kWh/kWp, the performance ratio PR = 76.6 % and the winter energy fraction 56.2 %.

Name and location Birg PV power plant
PV system type Grid-connected
Operates since 1992
Rated power 4.134 kW
Annual yield 4,200 kWh
Number of modules 78 Siemens Solar M55 cSi modules
Module mounting Fixed Tilt angle 90°

TABLE 3: Birg PV power plant, technical data


Kriegerhornbahn

Kriegerhornbahn photovoltaic plant is located 2,137 m above sea level in Lech ski area (Arlberg) in Austria. It consists of 12,000 solar cells ad it covers 150 m2 area. Transparent cells are integrated into buildings envelope. Peak power is 9,5 kWp and estimated electricity production is 900 kWh/kWp.

Name and location Kriegerhornbahn
PV system type Grid-connected
Operates since December 2002
Rated power 9.5 kW
Annual yield 8550 kWh
Array area 150 m2
Module mounting Fixed Tilt angle 90°

TABLE 4: Kriegerhornbahn PV system, technical data


Kriegerhornbahn photovoltaic system, courtesy: Sunways Kriegerhornbahn photovoltaic system, courtesy: Sunways

Kriegerhornbahn photovoltaic system (courtesy: Sunways)

Corviglia, St.Moritz

Systems around funicular of Corviglia in St.Moritz, Switzerland are parts of Clean Energy Path in St. Moritz. BIPV system at the beginning of the funicular has rated power 9 kWp. The second system located parallel to the route consists of 162 photovoltaic modules with peak power 18 kWp.

Name and location Corviglia, St.Moritz
PV system type Grid-connected
Operates since December 2003
Rated power 18 kW
Modules 110 Shell Solar modules
PCU 25 kW, Sputnik inverter

TABLE 5: Corviglia St.Moritz, technical data


Corviglia photovoltaic system, courtesy: Suntechnics Corviglia photovoltaic system, courtesy: Suntechnics

Photovoltaic system at funicular Corviglia, St.Moritz, Switzerland
(courtesy: SunTechnics)

Piz Nair

Located on 3,030 m above the sea level this is one of the highest located grid-connected systems. It consists of 104 photovoltaic modules with area about 120 m2.

Name and location Piz Nair, Corviglia, St.Moritz
PV system type BIPV, Grid-connected
Operates since December 2003
Rated power 14 kW
Modules 104 SunTechnics Modules
PCU 6 x 2,5 kW, Fronius

TABLE 6: Piz Nair PV system, technical data


Photovoltaic Power Plants Located in High Altitudes Worldwide

Power [1]
 
Location
 
Description [2]
 
On Grid
 
Picture
 
5,364 m ASL
40 kW
in India
Ladakh
Hybrid PV-wind standalone system owned by Indian defense department,
40 kW PV + 10 kW wind
4,206 m ASL
us USA
Mauna Kea,
Hawaii
Gemini Observatory roof-mounted PV system,
image courtesy: Maui Pacific Solar, Jay's Energy Equipment
 
2015 Gemini Observatory, Hawaii, credit: Maui Pacific Solar
4,300 m ASL
10 MW
cn China
Lhasa,
Tibet
Lhasa PV system,
image courtesy: osolar
2010 Lhasa PV System, credit: OSolar
3,840 m ASL
22 kW
ch Switzerland
Klein Matterhorn
Restaurant on Klein Matterhorn, BIPV 2010
3,445 m ASL
3 kW
ch Switzerland
Jungfraujoch
Jungfraujoch PV power plant,
image courtesy: HTI Bern, PV-Labor
1993-2014
3,030 m ASL
14 kW
ch Switzerland
Piz Nair
Piz Nair, funicular Corviglia,
image courtesy: SunTechnics
2003 Piz Nair PV system
2,677 m ASL
4,134 kW
ch Switzerland
Birg
Station Birg of the Schilthorn cableway
Picture courtesy: HTI Bern, PV-Labor
1992 Birg
2,200 m ASL
18 kW
ch Switzerland
St.Moritz
Funicular Corviglia,
image courtesy: SunTechnics

2003 Corviglia, St.Moritz
2,137 m ASL
9.5 kW
at Austria,
Kriegerhornbahn
Kriegerhornbahn,
image courtesy: Sunways

2003 Kriegerhornbahn
2,005 m ASL
9 kW
ch Switzerland,
St.Moritz
Funicular Corviglia,
image courtesy: SunTechnics

2003 Corviglia, St.Moritz

Notes

[1] Power is specified in MWp if DC array power is known. If DC array power is unknown than output power is specified. In some cases it is unclear if the power plant power is output or DC array power.
[2] List is not complete. All entries are given "as is" without warranties of any kind.

Recommended Books

Photovoltaics in Cold Climates - This book was co-edited by Michael M.D. Ross, formerly of the CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory (currently known as CETC-Varennes) and now the principal of RER Renewable Energy Research, and Jimmy Royer, of Solener Inc. The chapters were contributed by various authors from around the world as part of their countries' contribution to the IEA PVPS. Michael Ross wrote the introductory chapter and co-authored, with Sylvain Martel of CETC-Varennes, the chapter "The Economics of Photovoltaics in Cold Climates".

Additional Information

PV Labor - der Hochschule für Technik und Informatik - Berner Fachhochschule. External test facility is located at Jungfraujoch (3454 m ASL) for tests of photovoltaic components under extreme climatic conditions.

Papers

paper
Häberlin, H., Jost, M. (2014), PV-Anlage Jungfraujoch: 20 Jahre störungsfreier Betrieb mit Spitzen-Energieerträgen und kaum Degradation, 12. Nationale Photovoltaik-Tagung 2014, Lausanne, 10-11 April 2014.
paper
Häberlin, H. (2006), Rekordernte auf dem Jungfraujoch, Elektrotechnik 3/2006.
paper
Häberlin, H. (2004), Grid Connected PV Plant Jungfraujoch (3454m) in the Swiss Alps: 10 Years of trouble-free Operation with Record Energy Yields, Proc. 19th EU PVSEC, Paris, France, 2004.
paper
Häberlin, H. (2004), Netzgekoppelte Photovoltaikanlage Jungfraujoch: 10 Jahre störungsfreier Betrieb mit Rekord-Energieerträgen, SEV/VSE-Bulletin 10/2004.
paper
Häberlin, H. (2004), Hochalpine Photovoltaikanlagen - Langzeiterfahrungen mit Fassadenanlagen, Elektrotechnik 6-7/2004.
paper
Häberlin, H. (1999), Grid-connected PV Plant on Jungfraujoch in the Swiss Alps. Ross, M. Royer, J. Eds. Photovoltaics in Cold Climates. James and James, London.
paper
Häberlin, H., Renken, C. (1998), Grid-connected PV Plant Jungfraujoch (3454 m) in the Swiss Alps: Results of more than four Years of trouble-free Operation, Proc. 2nd World Conf. on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion, Vienna, Austria, 1998.