A “solar-bration” party is taking place tonight to launch what is being billed as part of a green energy revolution after the first solar panels were installed on roofs of the main building housing the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in Bloomsbury.
A crowdfunding campaign was launched to raise around £40,000 needed to pay for the 114 solar panels and their installation, and grant funding also helped make the project possible. The panels were purchased from and installed by Joju Solar, an Islington-based company.
The electricity will be mostly used to power SOAS, but some will also be sold into the local energy grid.
This is expected to net UniSolar Limited, described as a community fund, annual profits of £2,000 – thanks to a government subsidy.
The panels have a 20-year lifespan. Solar SOAS, the group behind the initiative, says it hopes to expand the scheme onto more roofs nearby in future and create a business model other universities can copy.
Keir Starmer, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, whose constituency includes SOAS, described the project as “thrilling”.
Green London Assembly Member Caroline Russell, who will be at tonight’s launch, said: “London is lagging behind in using solar energy so it’s great to see students leading a green power revolution in our city.
“Solar SOAS is showing us the way and the Mayor needs to follow their example by harnessing enthusiasm for community power generation.
“Sadiq Khan needs to help London schools, communities and businesses to follow suit, cut through the barriers and get them harvesting solar electricity from their underused and empty roof tops, to save money and accelerate the switch to clean renewable energy.”