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Austrian ski resort hosting vertical PV arrays with cross structures

Helioplant has developed a 7.2 kW vertical PV installation for high-altitude locations. The system purportedly remains free of snow, even after intense winter precipitation.

From pv magazine Germany

The Sölden ski lift company has deployed several vertical PV systems on the Tiefenbach glacier in the Ötztal Valley, Austria, at an altitude of 2,850 meters. The systems are based on cross structures. The modules are installed on them vertically, with total system output hitting 7.2 kW.

The developer, Austria-based startup Helioplant, said this design allows the system to remain free of snow, even after intense winter precipitation.

“During the period when we need electricity the most as ski area operators, there is generally a lot of snow on the roofs, which greatly limits the effectiveness of rooftop PV,” said Eberhard Schultes, project manager for Sölden. “In addition, it consumes less surface area and fits better into the landscape.”

The company said the structures host bifacial PV modules, which benefit highly from snow reflection. It has not reveal any additional technical details.

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The ski lift company did say that it plans to “significantly” expand the project if the vertical arrays reduce reliance on grid electricity compared to rooftop PV systems deployed in the valley.

The intelligent cross structure keeps itself free of snow due to wind turbulence. It is weather-resistant and low-maintenance, enabling stable energy generation, even in high mountain settings in the winter.

When there is snow, a scour ring forms around the PV element, which ensures energy production in winter. In addition, a gap in the ground – adapted to respective terrain conditions – allows for a thin layer of snow to increase reflection, according to Helioplant.

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Source: pv magazine