20 October 2016
A clean energy initiative set up by SOAS University of London students and alumni, in partnership with SOAS and the SOAS Students' Union, has become the first community energy project to successfully install crowdfunded solar panels at a UK university.
Solar SOAS, a project born out of discussions by the Energy and Climate Justice Society, a SOAS student society, crowdfunded to install solar panels on the unused rooftops of the SOAS Estate. 114 panels were installed on 26 September and the project now aims to cut carbon emissions, providing clean energy for around 20 years, raising awareness about climate change and generating £2,000 of profits per year for a community fund. Solar SOAS raised funds from the School, the SOAS Students' Union, alumni , students and other friends of SOAS to help contribute to the overall cost.
Keir Starmer, local MP for Holborn & St. Pancras and currently Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said he was “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!”
Baroness Valerie Amos CH, Director of SOAS said: "I am always impressed by the commitment of SOAS students to engage with the pressing issues facing our world today. Solar SOAS is an excellent example of our students taking a constructive and positive approach to tackling one of the great challenges of our time - climate change."
The project has also worked to engage young people and the local community in sustainable energy. Solar SOAS also now serves as a pilot for other UK universities and has also set up UniSolar Limited as a community benefit society to administer and introduce community energy to Higher Education establishments across the UK. The install completed on SOAS’s College Buildings serves as a pilot project and proof of concept, with others also in the early planning stages.
Isobel Annan, Co-founder of Solar SOAS said: “We overcame many obstacles and met some hair-raising deadlines over the past two years, as full-time students and alumni endeavouring to do something green and good in a challenging policy environment. We are live and generating, and ecstatic to see those shining panels.”
Hannah Short, Co-founder of Solar SOAS, said “The scheme was a rare opportunity for interested stakeholders to become part of a climate solution. It’s also been created and set up by students, all out of care and concern for the future of the planet.”
This project is part of SOAS’s continual efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The school recently topped the Brite-Green university league table with a 55 per cent reduction in carbon emissions since 2005. Earlier this year SOAS was awarded the Carbon Champion mark of achievement by the Camden Climate Change Alliance. Together with other Bloomsbury colleges (Birkbeck and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), SOAS also reached EcoCampus Platinum Statusby achieving the international standard for environmental management after a rigorous auditing process.
Find out more about crowdfunding projects at SOAS.