Photovoltaics is booming – also in Slovenia. The photovoltaic module prices are low, there is a yearly-basis net-metering scheme in place, and the state subsidizes the construction with a one-time grant of 18 cents per watt. Nevertheless, many citizens in Slovenia cannot or do not want to afford their own rooftop installation. There is also a lack of widespread awareness in the country that photovoltaics is an important building block in the fight against climate change.
So-called energy communities are supposed to help promote this awareness. Citizens join together and build a large solar power plant, which is financed by small contributions from the citizens. The team from the Laboratory of Photovoltaics and Optoelectronics has joined the AURORA project to raise awareness and to provide the possibility to invest into photovoltaic power plant and become a member of energy community. With support from the EU, the solar researchers want to set up an energy community that finances and operates a 200-kilowatt solar power plant. “It is high time and perfect opportunity to offer students and university staff to participate in energy transition and contribute to climate neutrality” says Prof. Marko Topic. “AURORA is the biggest project that deals with citizens we have ever participated in,” emphasises Matevz Bokalic, Senior Researcher. He hopes that up to 1500 students and staff will participate. The scientists are currently discussing with potential users what exactly this participation should look like. Even though interest in photovoltaics has risen sharply recently, it will be a challenge to reach these numbers because students in Slovenia may be reluctant to participate due to lack of energy and climate awareness, says Matevz. In the course of 2022, the photovoltaic plant will be designed and the documentation will be prepared. It will be installed on the roof of the faculty building, where the solar researchers are housed.