A project by: Solar SOAS
Green Power to The People
Solar SOAS is the first University community energy project of its kind in the UK! The project aims to get solar panels installed on the unused roofs of the SOAS Old Building, thereby cutting carbon emissions, raising awareness about climate change and renewable energy and generating £2,000 of profits per year for our community fund. This is an amazing opportunity for students, staff, alumni and friends of the university to help get this worthwhile project off the ground and join the green power revolution!
What are the benefits?
‘Community energy’ essentially means locally produced clean energy for the benefit of the community. In addition to cutting carbon emissions, Solar SOAS will generate a yearly community fund of approximately £2,000 through the Feed-in tariff (a government subsidy). This fund will be available for new local environmental ventures, as decided upon by the SOAS community. Thus it will be the green gift that keeps on giving for the whole 20-year lifespan of the solar panels! In the future we not only hope to expand onto more SOAS roofs, but create a business model that will make our future projects at SOAS and other universities across the country an exciting investment prospect for students, faculty, staff and alumni alike.
‘Absolutely thrilled to see the first university community energy project in the UK happening in our constituency. We hope this will lead the way for further similar projects around the country!’
– Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn & St.Pancras
What will funding go towards?
Funds will go towards purchasing and installing 114 solar panels, with the aim of finishing the install by late September. The project has several generous sources of funding, including the urban community energy fund (UCEF), SOAS itself, and the SOAS Students Union. We are reaching out to the wider community to contribute the rest to meet our funding target, which will make it a project we all have a stake in.
£38,000 = solar panels and installation
£2,000 = cost of rewards
Total needed = £40,000
The students union is backing our project with £10,000
Fun fact: The 114 solar panels to be installed on the SOAS Old Building will help cut carbon emissions equivalent to 10,264 kg per year
How can you help Solar SOAS?
- Share this page with your friends and on your social media
- Learn about energy democracy and other ways you can contribute in the fight against climate change
What do you get if you donate?
In addition to feeling good about being part of the climate solution (yes!), donations come with a selection of amazing eco-friendly rewards. These range from social media shout-outs and postcards, to practical tote bags and water bottles, cool t-shirts, solar-powered lights from the charity SolarAid, and an engaging solar panel-making workshop with the organisation Demand Energy Equality in South London. For some rewards we also include a charity donation! Reward options vary according to donation amount, and in general are worth roughly 10% the value of the donation. Note that pledges, donations and rewards are only valid and credited if we reach our goal and the project goes ahead! If you want your whole donation to go to our project and waive your rights to a reward, please select the “£1 or more pledge” and enter your donation amount accordingly.
Our story so far
Solar SOAS is the brainchild of the SOAS Energy and Climate Justice Society, and came into existence in 2014 as a way for students to take local action against climate change. UniSolar Limited was set up as a Community Benefit Society (a cooperative Society registered with the FCA – Society register number: 7219) with the aim of bringing this type of project to universities across the UK, with Solar SOAS as our pilot project. In March 2015 Solar SOAS were finalists in the Mayor of London Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award, and we also won £500 through the SOAS Ignite fund. In November 2015 we were awarded £20,000 from the urban community energy fund (UCEF) to do the feasibility work on our project (financial modelling, technical feasibility work, legal due diligence, grid connection suitability, planning permission). We are now just around the corner from purchasing and getting solar panels installed – which is where you come in.
Connect with us!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What happens to the electricity generated?
- A: The electricity will be mostly used at SOAS, helping to power the university with Green energy and some will also be sold into the local energy grid. This will generate regular income (with more in summer than winter of course!) through the Feed-in-Tariff, a government subsidy.
- Q: What will you do with the income earned from the electricity?
- A: The income generated will contribute to the long-term operation and maintenance of the solar panels, as well as channeled into our community fund to a sum of approximately £2,000 per year. This fund will be used to fund other environmental activities and events, and invite guest speakers to SOAS!
- Q: What happens if you don’t reach your goal?
- A: If we don’t reach our goal none of the money is taken from your bank account. We’ll work on other ways to get solar panels onto SOAS roofs and continue to spread awareness on energy and climate change issues!
- Q: What if I want all of my money to go to the project and not receive a reward?
- A: You can! Simply choose to ‘Pledge £1 or More’ and select how little or how much you want to donate, and it will all go directly to the project.
- Q: Can I invest, rather than donate money?
- A: We’re looking to open Solar SOAS as a possibility for community investment over the next few projects, but before that we need to complete this first installation and prove that there is enough appetite for community energy at universities in the UK!
- Q: Do you already have planning permission?
- A: The solar panels are considered permitted development under Camden planning guidelines, therefore we do not need planning permission. As it is a listed building and in a conservation area, we do need listed building consent. Together with SOAS we have commissioned an extensive heritage impact report and submitted our application for listed building consent. We are awaiting the outcome of this but are confident we will get it.
- Q: Can I support the project without making a donation?
- A: Of course! Help spread the word or even better, get active and get involved! Tell your friends and family in person, over the phone and on social media.
Have any further questions? Feel free to contact us on facebook, twitter, or at [email protected]!