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Photovoltaic-panels on avalanche protection constructions


Project information

In Switzerland exist around 60 kilometers of avalanche protection constructions that are to their main part located between 1800 and 2500 meters altitude. A pilot creation in the ski arena of Bellwald (VS) tests if avalanche protection constructions are applicable as carriers of photovoltaic panels and thus for the production of electric power. Besides technical and economical evaluations, an evaluation of social aspects focuses on the social acceptance of this technological innovation.


Research questions

This projects analyses the social and societal relevance of positioning solar panels in different environmental contexts, with a specific focus on the pilot creation in Bellwald with photovoltaic panels on avalanche protection constructions. The main goals are to assess the acceptance of this technological intervention from the perspective of the local inhabitants and the local tourists, to explore the limits of social acceptance of solar panels positioned in different environmental contexts, and to elicit the underlying influence factors of social acceptance.



In a first qualitative phase, the construction process of the pilot creation in Bellwald has been documented and semi-standardised interviews have been conducted with local inhabitants, technicians involved in the pilot creation and local tourists.

In a second quantitative phase standardised questionnaires are sent to all households of Bellwald and of two surrounding villages. Nearly identical standardised questionnaires are at the same time distributed to a random sample of local tourists (Hotel guests and holiday homer renters) and made available online for clients of the newsletter of Bellwald tourism.

Project team:

  • Matthias Buchecker, WSL
  • Carmen Graf, WSL
  • Annina Michel, Geographisches Institut der Uni Zürich
  • Dionys Hallenbarter, energieGoms


WSL, Energieregion Goms