Home, Sustainable development

The Solar for East Story

Solar For East is a student-led initiative that aims to implement more sustainable energy sources for the East Campus of United World College of Southeast Asia (UWCSEA). In early September 2017, fourteen Grade 9 students with a passion for clean energy, as well as the Facilities Department met to discuss the pressing issue of the school’s carbon footprint, as well as the possibility of launching a solar panel initiative on the campus. They then proceeded to create a proposal to share to the Board in November 2017, which was approved. As part of the UWC mission, this project aims to foster community awareness and spirit on the issues of clean energy and climate change, as well as allows the students involved to experience creating change and to take a lead in making a difference for the planet. The team is now currently working to install 1,130 panels across four different locations over the next few years in order to reduce the school’s dependency on unsustainable energy sources and reduce their impact on the environment.

Right now, the East campus consumes 5975 megawatts per hour of electricity each year. Electricity generation alone emits 7.65 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, clearly showing that our use of energy is unsustainable and a solution is needed, fast. Energy-related ventures alone account for 86% of all human-related greenhouse gases, and this pressing issue has become a lot more apparent in recent years, from droughts and floods to drowning polar bears. Luckily, many countries including Singapore are heavily contributing to working with renewable energy by funding renewable energy projects as well as the physical installation of solar panels. As the students did more research, the amount of carbon dioxide produced at their school inspired them to take action. UWCSEA emits approximately 2,480,363.17 Kgs of carbon annually, greatly contributing to the issue of climate change. With this initiative, we hope to save 173,625.4219 Kgs of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere, which will not only reduce the amount of money spent on energy but also greatly reduce the impact the school is having on the environment and global warming.

But how can you get involved?

1. Make a donation towards solar panel
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Buying a solar panel to go on the roof of UWCSEA East Campus would greatly help our impact on the planet, and just one solar panel would save 3,499.17 kg of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. For a gift of $600 you can buy a whole solar panel, or alternatively, buy parts of a panel for a lower price. Each dollar donated saves the emission of 5.83 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, so simply go on to the Solar For East website to make your contribution.

2. Reduce your reliance on air conditioners

The energy used by air conditioners is equivalent to the energy used by 11 fans. By switching to using a fan, you can save $400 every year. Even by letting the AC run for a little while, you can still save about $340 every year by using a fan.

3. Reduce energy wastage by turning off power sockets
We can save around $25 a year just by simply turning off unused power sockets. Use power strips instead and turn off groups of appliances when unneeded.

4. Practice sustainable consumerism
Rule: The more ticks, the better. You can save $270 a year with a 5 tick air conditioner and $75 a year with a 3 tick refrigerator.

5. Use appliances effectively
Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes and air dry them if possible. Save around $110 a year by switching off water heaters after use.

6. Cook smarter
Use microwaves and toasters to cook or warm leftovers. Keep the oven door closed while cooking as the temperature can drop by 25 degrees each time you open the door.

Following these 6 steps will bring us closer and closer to a cleaner tomorrow, and one step closer to ending global warming.

Our objective has always been to provide clean, sustainable energy solutions to the community of UWCSEA East, and with the help of an initial funding from the board and a lot of hard work, our goal can now be accomplished! We are now working directly on sales, as we set up our crowd-funding system in order to raise funds for panels. Our aim is to sell approximately 100 panels by the end of six months. We are working closely with the UWCSEA Foundation for the marketing of our campaign, and hope to gain support from all members of the community, including students, parents, alumni, and parents of alumni.

This blog post was written by the students leading the Solar for East initiative.