Still producing electricity: This is Europe’s oldest solar system


You can see the age of this PV system, but solar cells installed on the roof of a technical college in Switzerland are still producing electricity. And that for four decades!

40 years ago it was still real “space technology”, today PV systems are in demand like never before. (Source: cleantech energy systems)

  • Europe’s first and therefore probably oldest photovoltaic system (PV system) has been in the Swiss canton of Ticino since 1982.
  • The almost 300 modules have been feeding electricity into the public grid over an area of ​​500 square meters for around 40 years.
  • The drop in performance since 1982 is small. The current yield is still 80 percent of the original output.

Anyone who is currently planning to equip their roof with a photovoltaic system may be wondering: How long does a solar system like this last? Manufacturers counter the fear of premature failure of the expensive investment with long guarantees. Tesla, for example, promises a term of 30 years for its solar roof tiles.

And the following example from Switzerland also shows that PV systems are not a short-term fad. On the roof of the “Suola Universitaria professionale della Svizzera Italiana” (SUPSI) college, 300 modules have been producing electricity since 1982. The magazine energeek therefore describes the project as “Europe’s first grid-connected PV system”. We are also not aware of any older solar systems.

Real space technology

The solar system called “Ticino Solare 10 (TISO10)” consists of almost 300 modules, which are distributed over a roof area of ​​500 square meters. During commissioning, the developers measured an output of 10 kilowatts (kW). The modules are those that were also used in space travel, in satellites, at the time. The power output at that time was sensational, today’s solar modules work much more efficiently and are often arranged on both sides (bifacial).

Also interesting…

The system in Switzerland has meanwhile been placed on another building roof and survived the dismantling and reconstruction without damage. After 35 years, a measurement showed that the cells were still delivering almost 80 percent of their original performance. However, minor cracks, corroded and “blind” spots would contribute to age-related performance degradation. In Switzerland, a huge pumped-storage power plant was recently connected to the grid. Do you want to become a solar technician yourself? We have tested a recommended solar generator from Jackery for you. There is more news about alternative energy generation here at Netzwelt.

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