Solarize HSG: more photovoltaic installations on the HSG campus!

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"Managing climate solutions is the task of our generation".

With the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement, Switzerland has set itself a clear goal: climate neutrality by 2050. The Canton of St.Gallen aligns with this goal; Compared to 1990, CO2 emissions are supposed to be halved by 2030. Likewise, the Canton wishes to expand renewable energies from 2,000 GWh/year (2020) to at least 3,100 GWh/year (2030).[1] 

By signing the UN Climate Emergency Letter, the University of St.Gallen (HSG) has also committed itself to be climate neutral by 2030. [2] We consider it also our responsibility, as students and employees of HSG, to show that we a) support the political goals as well as the University’s policy, and b) welcome climate solutions being implemented on the HSG campus.  

By signing this petition, you support:

  • the opinion that more photovoltaic systems should be installed on HSG roofs;
  • the promotion of innovative solar energy projects on the HSG campus;
  • Switzerland and the Canton of St.Gallen in achieving its climate and energy goals.

Looking at the HSG from a bird's eye view, it becomes obvious that the University offers a lot of unused roof space. Indeed, a surface of around 10,000 m2 is available on the HSG campus. These roofs are perfectly suited for the installation of photovoltaic systems and offer the potential for an annual electricity production of around 1,400 MWh. It should also be mentioned that photovoltaic systems cannot be limited to roofs only; Great potential also exists in more innovative projects. For example, a group of HSG students are working on a project that includes an extensible photovoltaic system for the canteen patio.[3]

The price of photovoltaic systems has been steadily decreasing in recent years. Today, photovoltaic systems, along with wind energy, are the cheapest option for producing additional electricity and are therefore interesting for investors. The existing system on Building 23 is a good example: The roof of the building is rented by a company, which has installed a photovoltaic system and currently runs it at its own expense. The generation of renewable energy which is also economically competitive and measures to reduce energy consumption are a win-win solution. Therefore, there exists no reason why the roofs of the HSG should not be equipped with photovoltaic systems in a consistent and timely manner.  

Why does this require a petition to the Canton of St.Gallen

The majority of the HSG buildings are owned by the Canton of St.Gallen. Consequently, it decides on the realization of infrastructure projects on the HSG campus. In recent years, the administration of the University of St. Gallen has submitted several photovoltaic projects, which have already been financed, to the Canton - unfortunately without much success. Concerns regarding the protection of historical monuments, the structural and architectural feasibility or the aesthetic appearance led to the rejection of the projects. Fortunately, the Canton of St.Gallen has now approved photovoltaic systems at the new Platztor-Campus and on the library building. However, the great potential of the HSG is far from being fully used.  

Concrete content of the petition

With this petition, we, students and employees of the HSG, want to call on the Canton of St.Gallen to consistently promote and support photovoltaic projects on the HSG campus. The protection of historical monuments and the aesthetic appearance of the HSG buildings is important to us as well; Nevertheless, we are convinced that solutions combining these concerns can be found for the HSG roofs. Working together to find a longer-term and sustainable solution is the goal here!

HSG stands for innovation and progress. The slogan "From Insight to Impact" should not only be heard during lectures, but also implemented on campus. In addition to consistently supporting traditional photovoltaic installations, we call on the Canton of St. Gallen to tackle innovative solar projects on the HSG campus and to support us students in implementing such initiatives[3]. 

As students and employees of a leading business university, we consider it our duty to contribute to the fight against climate change. We want our university to adopt a pioneering role and thereby also develop a signaling effect for the City of St. Gallen, the Canton of St. Gallen and for Switzerland as a whole. A consistent expansion of photovoltaic systems and the realization of innovative solar projects are ideally suited for this purpose.

[1] St.Galler Energiekonzept 2021 – 2030

[2] See: https://sustainability.unisg.ch

[3]  An excerpt of several student initiatives can be found on this homepage : www.macsprojectsunisg.ch 

 


Thomas Huldi, Martina Rothenberger, Patrick Zbinden    Contact the author of the petition

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