World's first high-altitude floating solar farm – in the Swiss Alps
This is the world's first high-altitude floating solar farm, perched like a raft atop Lac des Toules, a man-made reservoir near the village of Bourg-Saint-Pierre in the canton of Valais near the Swiss–Italian border. It is a one-of-a-kind power plant, installed in December 2019 by Romande Energie, the main supplier of electricity in French-speaking Switzerland. "We came up with the idea in 2012 over a coffee," recalls Guillaume Fuchs, project lead in wind and floating solar plants at Romande Energie. "We were thinking about ways we could use dams to produce more electricity. First we considered wind power but there were too many constraints. So then we looked into a project with floating solar panels."
How does it work?
The solar plant at Lac des Toules consists of 1,400 panels, laid on 36 floating structures made of aluminium and polyethylene plastic anchored to the bottom of the lake. Current production exceeds 800,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is the equivalent of consumption for about 220 households.
Despite a considerable up-front investment of CHF2.35 million ($2.6 million) – more than what a similar installation on dry land would cost, thanks to extra costs associated with rafts and anchors – a photovoltaic installation on a man-made lake at a high altitude has several advantages.
"The atmosphere is a bit thinner and so UV rays are more intense,” Fuchs explains. “The panels are actually more effective at low temperatures, and we can even use the reflected light from the snow."
Using two-sided panels, which are fitted with photovoltaic cells both front and back, means they can also use light reflected from the surface of the water, which adds to the electrical yield.
"Compared to an installation of the same dimensions down in the valley, we produce about 50% more electricity up here," he points out.
Resistant to snow and ice
Beginning operation in December 2019, the solar power plant in the Alps got through its first winter successfully, Fuchs says. The problem with ice, which can be as thick as 60cm on the lake, was resolved using floats, which raise the structure whenever the surface of the water freezes over. When the lake is completely emptied at the end of March, the platforms come to rest on the bottom, which is flattened out.
The structure can sustain up to 50cm of snow. If the snowfall is heavier, the snow slips off the panels as soon as the sun begins to shine.
The back of the panel is what produces electricity,” Fuchs explains. “So they warm up, and the snow just slips off. After doing several tests we came to the conclusion that a slope of 37° on the panels would be enough to get the snow off, without compromising the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells."
The Alpine effect
Three factors come together to enable this high-altitude solar farm to produce up to 50% more energy than one on low-lying land: the cold temperatures, stronger UV rays, and light reflected from the surrounding snow. Photovoltaic cells are more efficient in cold weather, as Fuchs points out. Söderström also highlights the potential of this choice of location for generating power, especially in winter: "There is much less fog at an altitude of 1,810 metres than lower down. And the snow reflects the sunlight, so the panels can harness more energy – a phenomenon known as the albedo effect." The use of two-sided modules is very effective here because, when snow lands on a panel, the light reflected from one side heats up the other side by generating energy, causing the snow to slide off.
The overall effect of this Alpine environment is a higher energy yield, particularly in the winter months. It was thus a bold but winning decision. Söderström points out: "There is nothing new or exceptional about floating solar farms, and there are many examples around the world, but this is the first one that has to withstand the harsh climatic conditions of an Alpine winter. It stands as both an addition and a testament to Swiss expertise." According to SFOE figures, electricity from renewable sources accounted for around 75% of Switzerland's electricity consumption and 62% of electricity production in 2019.
This world-first project is drawing much interest from electricity companies around the world and has even become a tourist attraction in the region. "We are in contact with other electricity suppliers in Switzerland and Europe with a view to exporting our technology," says Fuchs. The mayor of Bourg-Saint-Pierre, Gilbert Tornare, adds: "Here at the end of the valley, we live off what few natural resources we have – sunshine, water and wind. So we welcomed this project with great interest and enthusiasm. And we get quite a few tourists coming to look at our floating solar farm. This project is good for our energy independence – but also for our economic survival as a region."
Future of solar power
The first floating solar installation was built in 2007 in Japan, and it was followed by projects in other countries, including France, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the United States. Currently, more than a hundred floating plants are operating around the world and the capacity has been increasing since 2014.
The panels can be placed on all kinds of bodies of water, from the industrial (disused mines) to the open sea. The world’s biggest installation of this kind is now in Anhui province, China, while the biggest one in Europe is in Piolenc, in the south of France (with 47,000 photovoltaic panels).
According to players in the sector, floating stations are really the future of solar power because the water cools the panels, increasing their yield. Furthermore, they resolve the issue of land use because they don’t take away any space from agriculture or construction.
This kind of solar power is likely to expand in many parts of the world, according to from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore and the World Bank.
2021 Watt d'Or award
The Lac des Toules solar project has cost CHF 2.35 million to date. It currently produces 800,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power 220 households. In recognition of its pioneering technology, Romande Energie was awarded the SFOE's 2021 Watt d'Or in the Renewable Energy category. However, the current structure – while efficient – is still only a demonstration project. As Fuchs reveals, Romande Energie has much bigger plans for the future, with a larger and more permanent structure to be built on the same lake in 2022: "The goal is to produce 22 million kWh per year, enough power for some 6,100 households." Romande Energie hopes to obtain planning permission for its new system in early 2021.
Prepared: Ivana Kravic, Jelena Buncic
You can watch the video of the investment conference SEE ENERGY- Connect & Supply II 2020 at the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asB9BgbGMbU
Climate change: EU leaders set 55% target for CO2 emissions cut
EU leaders have agreed on a more ambitious goal for cutting greenhouse gases - reducing them by 55% by 2030, rather than 40%.
The new target was reached after difficult all-night talks in Brussels. Poland, heavily reliant on coal, won a pledge of EU funding to help it transition to clean energy.
The EU Commission will draw up detailed plans for all 27 member states to contribute to the 55% target, measured against 1990 CO2 emission levels. EU Council President Charles Michel hailed the agreement, tweeting "Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change". It is part of a global effort to tackle climate change by cutting atmospheric pollution, especially carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The Paris climate deal, signed in 2016, aims to keep global temperature rise well under 2C, preferably within a maximum rise of 1.5C.
'Only a small improvement'
Environmental campaign groups say the 55% target does not go far enough. And the European Parliament, yet to debate the new target, has called for a 60% cut.
Sebastian Mang of Greenpeace said "the evidence shows that this deal is only a small improvement on the emission cuts the EU is already expected to achieve". Greenpeace is urging a minimum cut of 65% in EU carbon emissions. That figure was also advocated by Johannes Wahlmüller of Austrian green group Global 2000.
There are two key questions about this new target for 2030: is it significant and is it enough?
It is undoubtedly a major step forward for the EU, the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. It puts the Union on track to reach a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. The fact that they have been able to bring the more reluctant countries like Poland along is also a positive.
But is it sufficient to satisfy the science and to avoid dangerous levels of warming? That's more debatable. Many green groups and the European Parliament argue that the EU should have gone much further to 65-70% if they really are serious about keeping the rise in temperatures under 1.5C this century.
The announcement is hugely timely, coming just a day before the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement. And right now, thanks to China and the new incoming US administration, there is a great deal of positive news on climate change. This EU decision certainly adds weight to that momentum.
Analysis by an environment correspondent Matt McGrath
The UK government plans to slash UK emissions by 68% over the next decade.
Meanwhile, Australia has said it will achieve its 2030 emissions pledge, made under the Paris deal, without resorting to using old carbon credits.
Australia overachieved on previous climate targets, meaning it built up credits to offset against carbon emissions. But there was international opposition to the idea of using those credits instead of adopting more ambitious clean energy measures
In September the EU Commission set out its blueprint for reaching the 55% target by 2030, and said at least 30% of the EU's €1.8tn (£1.64tn; $2.2tn) long-term budget would be spent on climate-related measures.
To reach the 55% target, it says, annual investment in the energy system will need to be about €350bn higher across the EU.
The volume of fossil fuel imports to the EU needs to fall by more than 25% compared to 2015 levels, it says.
According to the Commission, by 2030 the proportion of renewable sources in power generation needs to rise to about 66% and fossil fuel sources diminish to under 20%.
In the first half of this year, the EU figure for electricity generation from renewables was 40% and that for fossil fuels was 34%.
Currently in the EU the burning of fossil fuels in the energy sector accounts for just over 75% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions, most of it CO2, the Commission says.
International Investment Conference: SEE ENERGY- Connect & Supply III, 6-7 October 2021
The third International Investment Conference with business meetings - SEE ENERGY Connect & Supply III 2021 will be held on 6th and 7th October, 2021 in Novi Sad, hotel "Sheraton".
This year, the already well-known meeting place of business leaders, investors, decision-makers, representatives of public institutions and state bodies will exchange opinions, knowledge and information on the latest technological achievements, innovations and solutions in the field of renewable energy sources focused on the environmental protection and water management.
The two-day conference will present the potential as well as financial and institutional support for investment projects through modern green energy production technologies.
Farm owners will have the opportunity to learn about ways to efficiently use and reduce costs in the collection of biomass through the logistics of harvesting residues, transport and storage, ensiling and cleaning.
The second day of the conference is dedicated to the production of thermal energy, but in a way that does not pollute the environment, as well as the topic of water management, water supply and wastewater treatment.
The organizer, National Biomass Association "SERBIO" will host representatives of companies and investors from Austria, Germany, Hungary and the region, to exchange experiences, examples of good practice and potential joint projects. The conference will be held, like the previous time, with the physical presence of those interested, following the virus protection measures that will be current at that time, as well as through the online version of the already accepted way of holding meetings and gatherings.
You can view the conference program at the following link.
SEE ENERGY- Connect & Supply II 2020
October 1-2, 2020, “Sheraton” , Novi Sad Republic of Serbia
National Biomass Association “SERBIO” is pleased to announce international investment conference
SEE ENERGY - Connect & Supply II 2020 which will be held in Novi Sad, Serbia organized by the National Association for Biomass - SERBIO, with the aim of getting familiar with the current business and legal policies as well as networking of domestic and international companies involved in the renewable energy sector.
‘SERBIO’ with partners GIZ DKTI and Ambero Consulting believe that influence of European companies on the development of the renewable energy sector in Serbia and SEE is of fundamental importance. Presence will encourage participants to direct the necessary attention to the significance of biomass, solar energy and EE in construction.
Date: October 01-02, 2020
Location: Hotel "SHERATON", Novi Sad
The most important circumstance for biomass cultivation is the amendments to the Law on Agricultural Land on the December 29th, 2015, which allows long-term lease of agricultural land for the purpose of raising energy efficient plantations and cultivation of biomass of industrial scale. The Ministry of Agriculture in Serbia will present the legal changes and clarify the lease procedure for the use of land for this purpose to the participants.
By adopting new legislation, which encourages the Ministry of Mining and Energy to generate electricity through RES, and through new feed-in tariffs, it creates a more favorable business environment for investment potential in the energy sector, as well as the supporting industries. Innovations in the efficient use of available resources of our region and the state, both agricultural biomass and wood residues, through the formation of new highly profitable resources on devastated land, make a big leap in the profitability of total production and create the potential of a new investment cycle.
Therefore, the aim of the SEE Energy II Conference is to connect reputable companies and international institutions in the renewable energy sector, to further stimulate the development of RES in the SEE region and to establish new business contacts between large companies, SMEs and local farmers.
The aim of the conference is to present the available incentives, credit lines and institutional assistance for the implementation of energy investment projects with an emphasis on the analysis of resources, biomass and its limiting factors.
The conference will welcome participants from companies from Serbia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, as well as representatives of state and provincial institutions, local self-government units, chambers of commerce, associations, investment and commercial banks, respecting further measures against COVID-19.
The focus of the conference will be on the following topics:
✔ Review of the situation in the renewable energy (biomass and solar) sector: new perspectives, development, realization and sustainability of energy projects;
✔ Innovations in the biomass business - new technologies and practical examples;
✔ Review of biomass potential in the region;
✔ Clean energy - environmental protection;
✔ Technology perspective - solar power generation;
✔ The importance of energy efficiency in construction;
✔ Economic environment: investments, legal frameworks, institutional and financial support;
✔ Energy Efficient in Construction;
Here, participants will get an overview of legal frameworks in Serbia and the
region of Southeast Europe, trends and future directions of development in the renewable energy sector.
A detailed agenda of the conference is available here.
Please download registration form here.
In the organization of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and the National Biomass Association SERBIO, more than 200 domestic and foreign participants, representatives of various levels of government, experts in the field of energy, producers, businessmen and users of biomass, discussed legal frameworks, green energy projects, examples of good practice in our country and European countries, about the potentials and possibilities for greater use of biomass and other renewable energy sources on a two-day International Conference „Biomass – Potential for Growth“ in Novi Sad.
On the first day of the conference, November 16th, the participants were greeted by the President of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina, Istvan Pastor, the deputy chairman of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina, Damir Zobenica, while the conference was opened by the Minister of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry in the Government of the Republic of Serbia Branislav Nedimović.
Minister Nedimovic said that biomass is a completely usual source of energy in the 21st century, but that there is not enough developed awareness in Serbia, adding that it will not be easy to disrupt the use of biomass and that all local-level functionaries must boldly enter that job.
In this regard, a special emphasis was put on the active role of the regions and local self-governments, which was confirmed at the conference by the presence of representatives from all 45 municipalities in Vojvodina.
In the introductory part of the conference devoted to market development, Heinz Kopetz, President of the World Association for the Exploitation of Energy from Biomass, and Peter Canciani, from the Central European Initiative CEI, also had their own speeches.
After introductory presentations and discussions dedicated to the development of the biomass market, the participants discussed the quality of biomass in the second part of the conference. In the second part, the president of the National Biomass Association SERBIO, Nataša Rubežić, adressed the participants and presented the basic initiators of public policy in favor of renewable energy sources, the advantages of using biomass, as well as its potentials primarily in Vojvodina.
Participants in the conference agree that it is necessary to work permanently on the energy transition towards self-sustainability, the development of renewable energy market and their increased use, with the aim of achieving energy security and independence and ensuring a healthier environment.
After the introductory and professional presentation of the first day of the conference, on the second day, November 17th, participants learned about examples of good practice in terms of resource generation and the use of biomass and other renewable energy sources in Vojvodina through study visits. They visited the heating plant in Sremska Mitrovica where they talked to the management about the way they work and produce energy from agrobiomass, i.e. from the sunflower husk.
After that, the conference participants visited the branch of the Institute for Lowland Forestry and Environment in Kac, near Novi Sad, where they visited the experimental fields and talked with the management about the creation and application of new technologies in forestry and agro-forestry systems, as well as the formation of new woody biomass resources in AP Vojvodina.
The National Biomass Association SERBIO, together with the Assembly of AP Vojvodina and the Assembly of European Regions, is organizing an international conference "Biomass – potential for growth", on November 16th and 17th, 2017 in Novi Sad.
We invite you to take part in a conference, on which one of the main objectives will be getting familiar with current business and legal frameworks, networking of domestic and international organizations and companies involved in the renewable energy sector.
In order to further stimulate the development of the biomass production and use sector in Serbia and the region, business environment analyses, examples of good practice by foreign companies and international institutions will be presented.
The conference will be held in the Great Hall of the building of the Assembly of Vojvodina on November 16th from 10 am to 4 pm. A study visit on November 17th will include a visit to the biomass heating plant in Sremska Mitrovica, a visit to an organic farm of beef with a built biogas plant in Čurug and a visit to the Institute for Lowland Forestry - the experimental area of Kać.
We sincerely hope that you will respond to our invitation and, together with representatives of state and provincial institutions, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Central European Initiative (CEI), the World Biomass Association (WBA), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Development Bank (KfW), other representatives of international institutions and European regions, local self-government units, chambers of commerce and associations, participate in the exchange of experiences on the ways of producing and using biomass.
You can download the preliminary conference program and the registration form at http://www.skupstinavojvodine.gov.rs/Strana.aspx?s=biomasa2017
National Biomass Association SERBIO through cooperation with numerous partners in the country and abroad, such as the Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade, the Institute of Lowland Forestry and Environment, as well as the Department of Energy, Electronics and Telecommunications within the University of Novi Sad, then the European Biomass Association AEBIOM and the World Biomass Association WBA, biomass organizations from countries in the region, specifically Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc., formed specialized professional project teams that bring together professionals with extensive experience and knowledge of the market and the process of forming a raw material base, logistics, exploitation and production.
When we add to this list numerous experts in the field of wood and agricultural biomass and in general in the field of renewable energy sources, we can say that we have all the relevant factors of the biomass market in one place under the auspices of the National Biomass Association SERBIO.
It is this kind of cooperation that enables us to provide our members and other clients with the following:
In a word, we have provided a service through which all participants in the chain of production and consumption of energy from renewable sources can get all the necessary assistance, all the information and the best solutions for their needs - individuals and the needs of their companies and agricultural holdings.
To find more about services click here.