1. Install Kit Fotónico GS120
This action is to install a Kit Fotónico GS120 - single solar appliance that uses photovoltaic technology to generate electricity when plugged into a building - on the outside terrace of IES Abroad Barcelona. In addition to the device itself, this action will include a information panel about what the Kit Fotónico is and why the use of renewable energy resources is important for sustainability as well as a donation collector to fund the purchase of further devices. Legislation in Barcelona requires that a building be approved as a company in order to be able to install solar panels on their roofs. However, the Kit Fotónico is a completely legal and extremely simple way to generate a portion of IES Barcelona Abroad's electricity from a renewable and sustainable energy source.
The actual installation and usage of the Kit Fotónico in IES Abroad Barcelona will do one simple thing is sustainable for several reasons - it will ensure that more electricity is generated by the photovoltaic cells and less will be taken from the main electrical grid in Barcelona. Spain uses a combination of coal/peat, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy to power over 85% of the electricity in the country - all of which are non-renewable sources of energy. On the other hand, only less than 15% of the electricity is powered by renewable sources such as geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar. Thus, when IES Barcelona is using electricity provided through the main grid, it is essentially from non-renewable sources. Spain holds the second largest photovoltaic energy potential out of all European Union States (3404.8 MWp (Megawatt Peak)) yet solar energy remains the smallest contributor to its total renewable energy electricity generation (.30%). Thus, photovoltaic cells such as the Kit Fotónico are an excellent way to increase the amount of renewable energy usage in Spain and, more specifically, at IES Abroad Barcelona.
The first reason that using renewable energy is sustainable is because it reduces dependency upon larger, outside bodies (such as the regional/ national governments) for its consumption of electricity. According to Spain's net-import/exports, it has a 81.4% energy dependency. This means that the price of electricity in Spain is highly dependent upon international politics and economics - two entities which are highly variable and unstable. By becoming more independent in the generation of its electricity and adding other means of acquiring electricity, IES Barcelona will be more resilient because it has more links within its energy network; the more links a system (IES Barcelona) has, the more likely that it will be sustained when outside conditions change.
Secondly, the installation of the Kit Fotónico will help IES Abroad Barcelona become more sustainable by reducing its ecological footprint because as of the difference between non-renewable energy sources (such as coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas, etc) and photovoltaic cells in terms of environmental effects. The former energy sources have detrimental effects on the environment such as greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear waste and spills, habitat and species destruction by mining and drilling, pollution in ecosystems by oil spills and chemical runoff, and many more. These effects or "large footprints" are unsustainable because the Earth doesn't have the proper resources or ability to bounce back to sustain such treatment of the environment. A fact which is evident with specific examples such as global climate change and species loss due to pollution as well as a general decrease in environmental quality. Conversely, solar energy (photovoltaic cells) cause very little detriment to the environment because it has no bi-product from its energy generating processes (such as CO2) and its initial construction has relatively little environmental effects. By reducing the ecological footprint of IES Abroad Barcelona, this action is contributing to a more sustainable treatment of the environment.
In addition the sustainable effects of renewable energy use, my action plan is sustainable because of the manner in which it will be displayed on the terrace and the information panel/donation collector that will be installed next to it. These two features create a positive feedback loop within the action that both increase sustainable/environmentally friendly thinking within the student body and increase the sustainability of the action itself. First, by advertising and explaining the Kit Fotónico and its related environmental impacts (i.e. information about the environmental impact of nonrenewable energy sources, global warming/CO2 emissions, sustainable/renewable energy sources, etc.) the students at IES Barcelona will be more likely donate more money because they understand the problems related to energy consumption and how their small actions can make a difference in the overall solution. As the number of donations increase, so does the number of Kit Fotónicos installed in the courtyard. This becomes a positive feedback loop because as more devices are displayed, the attention of non-previous-donators will be caught (and they will soon become donators) and the empowerment of the previous donators will increase (and they will soon donate more). This reinforcing loop not only ensures that the action will continue and grow but it will promote a overall change in attitude of the students toward a more sustainable way of looking at energy use. By recognizing how electricity use can effect the environment, students will be more energy conscious in their every day lives in Barcelona (i.e. turning lights of when they leave a room and unplugging their computers/chargers when not in use) and when they return home to the United States.
Lastly, this action is sustainable because it is eco-effective rather than eco-efficient. While the later aspires to merely modify the old system of how we, as a society, do things, the former redesigns the entire system. In the case of the Kit Fotónico, this action is redesigning the way we generate energy, instead of merely using less electricity which is generated in a way that is harmful to our environment and unsustainable. By being eco-effective this action is getting to the root of the energy problem - the fact that our traditional methods of producing electricity is unsustainable - and finding a solution to.
1.2.1. Potential Benefits
In the short term, this action will have the benefit of promoting education throughout IES Abroad Barcelona about the issues of sustainability surrounding nonrenewable energy and possibility for solutions. As this action continues it will also become economically beneficial to IES Abroad Barcelona because it reduces the electricity bill by 150 kWh/year (the device generates this amount of energy every year). The average cost of electricity in Barcelona is 25.81€/100kWh so this translates to about a savings of about 39€/year. Taking into account the initial price of the Kit Fotónico, each device will pay for itself in 17 years. The expected lifetime of the device is a minimum of 30 years and thus, will make IES Abroad Barcelona money for the remaining 13+ years - at least 520€. In the mid-term, as more and more devices are being installed, a substantial amount of money can be made because of this action. Furthermore, since the sources of energy being providing electricity to the grid in Barcelona are nonrenewable, they will become more scarce over time and their price will go up. This translates to even further savings for IES Abroad Barcelona in the long term as the money they would have been paying for electricity from the grid is increasing but the price that they are paying for the Kit Fotónico is remaining stable (or could even decrease as technology in the field). It could be decided further down the line that the money saved because of this action can be placed in the Sustainability Club fund in order to promote other sustainable actions within IES Abroad Barcelona.
1.2.2. Potential Costs
Initially this will cost IES Abroad Barcelona about 325€ to make half of the payment for the first Kit Fotónico. After this, only the money of the students will generate funds for the actions through donation. However, some time and human resources will be needed each time a new device needs to purchased and installed.
This action will initially raise money in order to be able to purchase half (the other half will be matched by IES Barcelona) of the Kit Fotónico. After the device is purchased, it will be placed in the IES Barcelona outside terrance for all the students to see. Next to the Kit will be a panel providing information about solar energy, the need for renewable energy, and how these concepts connect with sustainability. There will also be a box for donations which will be collected by a member of the sustainability club.
As of now, a meeting has been carried out with Cesar in which approval was given to the action itself and confirmation was given that IES Abroad Barcelona will provide half the funds for the first Kit Fotónico; the device itself costs a total of 685€. Raising 342€ is a highly feasible goal when taking into account that there are around 300 students in the IES Barcelona program (every student would only need to donate around 1€). In order to raise funds, collection boxes were placed in every classroom from November 30th until December 3rd and messages were sent out via Facebook and word of mouth to advertise the fundraising. The money will be collected on Friday, December 3rd and kept within the Sustainability Club. In a perfect world, we would reach fundraising goals within this time but if the 324€ is not raised, the boxes will be set out again the next week and collected nightly until the goal is reached (if need be, this process will have to be extended into the next semester and someone in the Sustainability Club next year will be informed by someone in this action as to what needs to be done). Next, the student-provided half of the money will be taken to Cesar and he will give the rest of the money to the Sustainability Club. The Kit Fotónico can be easily purchased online at terra.org and will be promptly delivered to IES Barcelona.
Once the Kit Fotónico is in the hands of the Sustainability Club, it will be installed in the outdoor terrace. Installation is simple and instructions regarding optimal placement and other technicalities are provided with the device. After the device is installed the information panel will be next (look below for a sample sheet), as well as the bin for donations for future Kit Fotónicos. A member of the Sustainability Club will be responsible for collecting the money from the secure bin once every two weeks and the money will be put towards a fund to purchase a second (and then third, fourth, etc.) Kit Fotónico. The subsequent devices will be installed as the funds provide for new purchases. Thus, the action's scope and benefits will increase with time.
Updates regarding how much energy is being generated "cleanly" and the progress of fund raising will be posted on the Sustainability Club Website and/or Facebook page in order to keep students excited about the action and donating more money.
Because of the "real world" implications of time restrictions, much of this work (installing and further collecting) will have to be done by the students in next semester's sustainability club. This can pose a threat to the success of our action if proper action is not taken. To reduce this treat, a member of this action group will be in charge of contacting next year's club and making sure that a student is given the needed information and incentives to build upon the work that has already been done.
1.4. References & Links
Europe's Energy Portal. 2006-2010. 26 November 2010 <http://www.energy.eu/#dependency>.
Global Energy Network Institute. 2009. 26 November 2010 <http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/energy-issues/spain/index_chart.html>.
Terra.org Ecología Prática. Fundació Terra. 14 November 2010 <http://www.terra.org/html/s/producto/1/magatzem/spra_211.php>.
1.5. Students involved in this action
Anna Katz (leader)
Annie Mickle - ideas about costs editing, and Information Panel
Laura Scuderi - ideas about benefits and editing
Katie Dasburg - ideas about the need to raise funds/ how to go about doing that and editing
Assignment: Peer review form
Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)