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Abstract

Our work explores the prospect of bringing the temporal production profile of solar photovoltaics (PV) into better correlation with typical electricity consumption patterns in the midlatitudes. To do so, we quantify the potential of three choices for PV installations that increase production during the winter months when electricity is most needed. These are placements that favor (i) high winter irradiance, (ii) high ground-reflected radiation, and (iii) steeper-than-usual panel tilt angles. In addition to spatial estimates of the production potential, we compare the performance of different PV placement scenarios in urban and mountain environments for the country of Switzerland. The results show that the energy deficit in a future fully renewable production from wind power, hydropower, and geothermal power could be significantly reduced when solar PV is installed at high elevations. Because the temporal production patterns match the typical demand more closely than the production in urban environments, electricity production could be shifted from summer to winter without reducing the annual total production. Such mountain installations require significantly less surface area and, combined with steeper panel tilt angles, up to 50% of the winter deficit in electricity production can be mediated.

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