PV system installation types

Any outdoor surface can be used to generate solar power. In Switzerland, solar systems are most commonly fitted on roofs. However, facades are being used more and more often, as well as unconventional surfaces such as avalanche protection panels or sound protection walls. Solar farms built on free outdoor surfaces are less frequent.

Solar power systems’ exposure and yield: annual solar irradiation for various roof and facade exposures in the Swiss midlands. Maximum yield (100%) is achieved with a full south exposure and a 30-degree incline.
Mounting options: 1) on top of a flat or pitched roof 2) as a sun shading element 3) on a facade 4) on-roof fixing 5) in-roof integration

Solar systems mounted on buildings

There are many options for fitting solar systems to buildings:

  • in-roof installations are integrated into the roof as a part of the building envelope
  • flat-roof installations are mounted on top of a flat roof without penetrating it
  • on-roof systems are installed on top of pitched roofs;
  • facade-integrated systems are either fixed to the outside of the facade or integrated into it, or else used as sun protection elements.

Using various roof and facade surfaces available in a building ensures an even distribution of power production over a whole day. Even systems that are not facing south can be profitable.

Solar farms

Solar farms are PV plants mounted on large free surfaces. The photovoltaic modules are fitted on a support structure at an angle to the sun. There are two types of solar farms: ground-mounted fixed plants and tracking solar plants that follow the sun’s position.

Currently they have but little importance in Switzerland. Due to scarcity of land, complicated licensing procedures and reservations by parts of the population, a significant deployment boost cannot be expected in the medium term. Swissolar also prioritizes exploiting the huge potential provided by roofs and facades for solar energy: with it, 10% more than today's electricity demand could be satisfied. However, surfaces that are already heavily used, such as along highways and railway lines, in skiing regions or stone quarries, as well as avalanche protection panels, may also be utilised to produce solar power.

Floating solar platform on Lac des Toules, © Romande Energie

More application options

Some special solutions for mounting PV systems need to be mentioned. These include installations fitted on avalanche protection panels, on ski lifts, on sound protection walls or reservoir lake plants. There are also some product-integrated power solutions (e.g. parking meters, lighting, etc.).