Campus - 21.06.2023 - 10:41 

HSG students commit to a solar panel installation on campus

A solar installation with around 500 panels will be built on the roof of the HSG sports hall this year. HSG students, researchers and administrative staff of the HSG have been heavily involved in the project.

“We want to leave something to the HSG that will make a long-term contribution to sustainability”, says HSG Master's programme student Simona Weber. This spring semester, together with students Ines Morales, Weiqi Liu, Nadja Koster and Jonathan Meyer, she campaigned for solar panels to be installed on the roof of the HSG sports hall. 

The panels are scheduled to be installed in the second half of this year and will have an annual electricity production of around 200,000 kilowatt hours - enough to cover the annual consumption of 40-50 average Swiss households. HSG will use them to cover part of its own energy needs and feed any surplus into the power grid.

Students, researchers and administration at HSG all worked together on the project

The students implemented the project as part of the Master's Certificate in Managing Climate Solutions (MaCS). In this course, HSG students from a wide range of Master's programmes develop entrepreneurial solutions to climate change. In the process, they also launch various practical projects. At the beginning of June, for example, St.Gallen's Dohlengässlein was transformed into a "climate staircase", a visual representation of climate change. 

Behind this next solar installation on the HSG campus - others already exist on the library and on temporary building 23 - is the tireless work of various MaCS cohorts. Initial assessments of suitable roofs were carried out in 2021. A group collected 475 signatures for a petition to expand solar energy, which led to filing a motion in the cantonal council. In the summer of 2022, potential project developers were contacted and a first attempt was made at crowdfunding

Although at the time around 25,000 Swiss francs was raised from companies and private individuals within just a few weeks, this was still not enough to finance the planned facility. “We have been able to take on some of the preliminary work carried out by the group, however, we have opted for a different financing model”, says Simona Weber. The students were supported by Markus Steiner, Head of Construction+Technology HSG, Luzia Engler Wirth, Head of Legal Service and Rolf Wüstenhagen, Head of MaCS Programme and Professor of Renewable Energy Management. In particular, discussions between the canton, as the building's owner, HSG and Solarify, as the implementation partner, had a time and planning horizon that extended beyond one semester.

An installation “by HSG for HSG”

The Swiss solar start-up Solarify is now taking the lead in developing and financing the project and is offering interested small investors the opportunity to participate directly in the planned 500 panels on the roof of the HSG sports hall. For the planning and construction of the installation, Solarify is working with Helion, a subsidiary of the AMAG Group. “We hope that as many HSG members as possible will buy a solar panel”, says Simona Weber. The aim here is to make this project “by HSG for HSG”. The students are using a marketing strategy to ensure they reach as many HSG alumni, students and staff as possible.

However, the sale is not only open to HSG members, but to anyone interested in also getting involved. Solarify expects each panel to cost around CHF 1,000. In return, every three months participating panel owners will receive their share of the income generated from the sale of electricity and will then be able to achieve a small return on their investment. “Our panels are an opportunity to participate in the energy revolution and promote local value creation. Although the contribution is small, it is directly visible”, says Ursina Dorer, Communications Manager at Solarify.


The panels of the solar installation on the HSG sports hall can be purchased here. Until the end of July 2023, persons and companies with a direct connection to the HSG, as well as from the St. Gallen region in general, have a right of first purchase.

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