UPM South Campus - Energy Community

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The AURORA project was born with the vision of empowering the South Campus Community to spearhead a paradigm shift in the energy sector. Its inception aimed for UPM members to co-finance a series of photovoltaic installations within the South Campus through micro-investments that would be used for a dual purpose.

  • Contribute to the energy transition in a local way.
  • Learn about renewable technologies first-hand, regardless of our financial capacity or asset resources.

Reimagining the original concept

Despite UPM’s support for the project, navigating uncharted legal territory proved challenging. After months of hard legislative work, the idea was ultimately rejected, as both parties couldn’t reach a partnership agreement between the community and the university. We weren’t the only ones facing these difficulties. Three out of the four university communities involved in the project encountered difficulties. However, the idea of the South Campus Community transforming its environment and becoming a driver of innovation remained. We believe that real change comes from people. For this reason, the project promoters reimagined the original concept. Instead of focusing on UPM buildings, we proposed implementing the idea in buildings within our district and neighbourhood. This approach allows us to collaborate with other local communities, thus expanding the potential social impact of our project. We approached educational communities in the area to establish partnerships for these facilities, and we are delighted to say that we have secured the first installation agreement with the Centro Cultural Palomeras school, a 40-year-old school less than 1km from our Campus.

The school will host the installation, co-financed both by families associated in the school and by members of the Campus Sur community. The initial objective is to facilitate collective learning through a real micro-financed installation, where shares start from as little as 20€, offering for a modest return. Ecooo, a company experienced in managing community photovoltaic plants, will provide support and expertise. Beyond collective learning and economic return, our initiative aims to foster community ties, bridge primary and secondary education with university, and reduce carbon emissions.

What will happen once the AURORA project concludes?

After the exhaustive journey, filled with long days, sleepless nights, and conversations with students, administrative and service staff, teachers and neighbours, as well as organising workshops, colloquiums, and competitions through the citizen laboratory of the energy community, we realised that AURORA cannot simply remain a project; it must become a defining symbol of our Campus, embodying the collective identity of those of us who call this place home. For this reason, we are currently in the process of registering a cooperative led by members of the university community on campus. This cooperative, after AURORA, will continue to keep the project alive and enable its expansion into new educational communities within the neighbourhood. It will sustain our workshops, continue our awareness efforts through the AURORA app, engage with other university communities interested in following our model, and expand our initiatives beyond photovoltaic installations to address broader sustainability challenges in our environment.

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