Largest solar power plant in Europe to be built in Switzerland
A five square kilometre solar power plant is expected to be built in Canton Valais. Once completed, the plant will be the largest solar array in Europe, providing Swiss cantons and cities with a new source of clean energy.
Project in Valais to become the largest solar power plant in Europe
The size of 700 football pitches, the new solar plant is to be built in the small town of Grengiols, Canton Valais. According to SonntagsZeitung, the plant will be built at 2.000 metres above sea level to avoid the worst of the Swiss weather, situated next to a nearby mountain.
The new facility will produce two terawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 400.000 houses, and as much as the largest hydroelectric power station in Switzerland, the Grande Dixence on the Lac des Dix.
Project expected to create jobs and income for remote mountain regions in Switzerland
The head of the scheme and former president of the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland, Peter Bodenmann, said that the project will cost 705 million Swiss francs and will likely start in 2025. “We are in the middle of a technical revolution. In order to be able to cover the electricity requirements for electric car drivers and heat pumps, large solar power plants are needed quickly. The expansion of solar panels on roofs takes far too long,” Bodenmann told SonntagsZeitung.
The mayor of Grengiols, Armin Zeiter, called the project “sensational” and hoped that the plant would create jobs and generate a good source of income for the local council. He made the point that if the government wants to achieve its 2050 net-zero goal, ambitious and large projects like the solar plant need investment. The council will put the proposal to locals next summer in the form of a referendum.
Critics concerned over the sheer size and scale of the project
However, there are some critics of the plan, with the managing director of the Landscape Protection Foundation, Raimund Rodewald, claiming that projects on this scale “damage the reputation of clean solar energy.” With the “purely gigantic” scale of the project, Rodewald questioned “whether Valais now wants to say goodbye to nature-related tourism altogether."