Photovoltaics at the 3s cableway stations

Clouds Clouds Clouds

29 March 2018

The new 3S cableway is not only a remarkable feat of ultramodern lift engineering and high-alpine construction, it also features buildings designed to generate clean energy. The photovoltaic system on the façades of the valley station has been in operation since 30 January.

“The valley station for the new 3S cableway is perfectly suited to a photovoltaics system,” says Stefan Aufdenblatten, CEO of power company Elektrizitätswerk Zermatt AG (EWZ). Both the location and the available surfaces are ideal for the installation of a solar power array. In keeping with ZBAG’s positive approach to sustainability, it has made the building façade available to EWZ for electricity production. On the south and west walls of the station, a total of 485 modules in an aluminium post-and-beam construction have been fitted to the timber frame of the building shell, covering a surface area of 877 m2. The system at the new 3S cableway’s valley station has a peak output of 135.8 kWp and will generate 157'000 kWh of energy a year, equivalent to the power used by about 35 households. The photovoltaics system will save 23.4 tonnes of CO2 a year. 

The PV modules had to be carefully selected to account for the alpine weather conditions at almost 3'000 metres above sea level, which also required the installation of a number of steel supports to combat the high winds. The energy-generating modules are slightly thicker than the conventional types in order to withstand the effects of the weather, such as ice formation and hail. 

Natural light
Between the modules, 57 glass windows were installed to provide natural light in the building. These were positioned to allow the entrance area to be naturally lit, as well as key areas for inspection and maintenance work. The result is a sunny station building requiring minimal use of artificial sources of light.

The third photovoltaics system in the ski resort
Since April 2'000, the façade of the Matterhorn glacier paradise restaurant, which was built and financed by BKW AG, has comprised 108 solar modules with a power rating of 23'650 Wp, generating 35'000 kWh a year. The high-yield photovoltaic system fitted to the south façade earned Zermatt Bergbahnen AG the Swiss and European Solar Prizes in 2010. Zermatt Bergbahnen AG has been operating another photovoltaics system at the Matterhorn Express station on Trockener Steg since 2010. Here, 99 solar panels yield 21'780 Wp of power and generate 20'000 kWh annually. The façade of the 3S cableway valley station is thus the third photovoltaics system in the ski resort. Another system will be installed at the 3S mountain station, which is currently under construction.