3S Swiss Solar Systems AG (3S Swiss Solar), a subsidiary of 3S Industries AG, and the Restaurant Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Matterhorn) have inaugurated a solar power station constructed on Klein Matterhorn mountain on April 21, 2009. The solar power station has been constructed in accordance with the most recent environmental standards. 3S Swiss Solar has delivered the solar modules for the installation which supplies the restaurant with electricity at an altitude of less than 4000 metres.

The high-precision laminating technology from Lyss guarantees that the solar modules will have a long useful life under extreme weather conditions.

Never before has a building-integrated photovoltaic installation of this kind been commissioned at a comparable altitude in Europe. With an installed output of 22 kilowatts, as much electricity can be generated on the Klein Matterhorn as the annual estimated consumption of 12 family homes. That is powered by 108 solar panels from 3S Swiss Solar, all of them integrated on a surface area of about 200 m2 in the façade of the building.

The planning, production and installation of this unique solar power station was fraught with challenges. At an altitude of 3840 metres, there is permafrost and usually a strong wind. On the other hand, the sunshine, which is twice as strong at that alpine level, is optimal for a solar installation. The clean air of the mountains, the reflection from the snow and the dominant low temperatures all have a positive effect on the performance of solar modules. In view of the extreme weather conditions, the photovoltaic installation required a supplier of high-power panels with a long-life guarantee.

With its outstanding know-how in the process of solar module production, extensive experience in projects involving building-integrated photovoltaics and the world’s leading production technology, 3S Swiss Solar was quickly found to be the ideal partner for the project. The photovoltaic experts and technological leaders from Lyss developed and produced special, extremely weatherproof solar modules for the façade of the restaurant on the peak.

With the laminators from 3S Swiss Solar, which can achieve unique temperature homogeneity, the glass modules with unusually thick glass of 18mm (almost 5 times the thickness of traditional modules) were able to be manufactured under optimal laminating conditions. High-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells from the ersol company were used in the process. Through the aesthetically appealing integration of the solar panels into the façade, the result on the Klein Matterhorn is a perfect synthesis of a robust, weatherproof building shell and efficient, environmentally friendly generation of electricity.

The restaurant, built in accordance with the most modern standards (MINERGIE-P) for future-orientated living and working, offers seating for 120 and overnight accommodation for 40 guests. It is owned by the Zermatt Mountain Railways and is an outstanding example for the reduction of environmental impairment by means of a modern, sustainable type of construction. The pioneering photovoltaic project from Peak Architects (Zurich/Zermatt), the façade planning firm of Burri Müller Partner in Burgdorf and MLG Metal and Planning AG in Bern was implemented together with the power stations of the Canton of Bern.

The realisation of a solar installation in this high-alpine location is a pioneering project, says Patrick Hofer-Noser, the chief executive officer of 3S Swiss Solar. We are thrilled that solar modules from our company will in future be supplying electricity for restaurant visitors and alpine sports enthusiasts in that wonderful part of the world.