“Reducing our carbon footprint and increasing awareness on the potential of solar energy with solar panel installation”

A group of volunteer 11th grade students from the Turkish İDV Özel Bilkent High School  and the Slovenian Rudolf Maister Kamnik High School initiated a research project on the issue  of renewable energy and its effects on the environment. Climate change and related problems are  increasing daily. We believe that these problems can be reduced through effective education and 

awareness-raising. Based on reliable sources we started by examining natural disasters  happening around us and we named the damage done to the natural environment by human hand  as “environmental problems”. Our research revealed that such environmental problems cause  much more damage when compared to natural disasters, a finding which led us to take action.  

Figure 1. Installed Solar Panels in Our School Yard 



We learnt that a total of 506 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were produced in  Turkey in 2019, 399.3 million tons of which were due to CO2 emissions. We observed that 138  million tons originated from electricity and heat production. From researching renewable energy use, we realized that only 496,805 km2, approximately the acreage of Spain, would be enough to 

meet the energy needs of the entire world population in 2030, only using solar panels (Kurban).  We realized that solar energy installations can reduce the usage of fossil fuels and so we aimed  to raise awareness through designing a project mainly focused on solar energy panels. We  deduced that storage technologies and the installation of panels were costly in the short term and  concluded that solar panels were not widely used for this reason. We also saw that achieving a  reduction of 80-90% in greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990 values was among the EU’s  renewable energy targets (“Enerji - AB’nin Hedefleri”).  

Figure 2. “Total Surface Area Required to Fuel The World With Solar” Land and Art Generator.

13 Agust 2009. landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127. Accessed 12 Dec 2021. 

Figure 2. Surface Area Required to Power The World With Solar Panels 


Our first step was to examine panel prototypes and evaluate economic factors. Thus, we  visited Gazi Technopark in Gölbaşı to see the operation of solar panels in the field. After a  feasibility study, we decided to install panels with a total energy capacity of 2kW to illuminate 

the main corridor of our school. We initiated a collaborative process with the Ersis Energy  company and Bilkent University’s Construction Works Technical Department as a result of  which six panels, donated by the Halk Energy company, were installed in our school’s garden by  Ersis Energy engineers, after studying a suitable location for their placement. 

Currently, our school corridor is illuminated with the energy produced from our solar  panels. In this way, we have both contributed economically to the school and reduced our carbon  footprint. To extend awareness and reach a wider audience, we prepared presentations about our  project and conveyed our experiences to partner schools. Our primary and middle school  students came to the high school to examine the panels so that they could actively learn about  energy renewal. We published a scientific article describing the details of the project in the  March issue of "Enerji ve Çevre" and "Synergy" magazines and an interview related to our  project was published in the April issue of the Anadolu Aktüel Magazine. We also participated in a live broadcast on Radio METU's "Öğleden Sonra Kuşağı" on March 18th and Radio TRT’s  “Ailece” program. 

The “ECO CLIMATE Economy and Climate Change Summit and Fair” held at the ATO  Congresium, Ankara from the 30th to 31st March 2022 attracted 50,000 participants and aimed to  support the #greenmovement in combating climate change and its effects on the economy. We  set up a stand and gave presentations in the ‘green’ hall, which were appreciated by  businesspeople from different sectors, the general public and students, which allowed us to increase the interaction and impact of our project. On April 22nd we celebrated “International  Earth Day” at our school by organizing a range of events to draw attention to issues such as  climate change and environmental pollution. We created an environment where students could  exchange ideas and find solutions to environmental problems in five different workshops. We  also designed a survey to evaluate the general awareness level about renewable energy, and so  far, 535 people have filled out the survey. Our aim was to enable our fellow students to have a  positive impact on their school environment and society, and to develop their leadership,  communication, and negotiation skills.  

We carried out this project together with our project partner, the "Gimnazija in Srednja  Sola Rudolfa Maistra" school in Slovenia and we have been taking part in video conferences  with them since December 2021. Our partner school conducted research on the use of solar  power plants in their school buildings and solar panel installation in Slovenia in general. We then 

participated in presentations at the "Climate Fair" held in Slovenia on April 1st where Ivan Kenda emphasized the importance of an energy efficient home and making small changes in lifestyle  that use far less resources like water, gas and electricity. He also pointed out that we should  support the use of more renewable energy in Slovenia as currently coal is the main energy source  at 22%. In attending this conference both schools wished to raise awareness in an international  context about carbon footprint reduction.  

Figure 3. GSŠRM Kamnik Using Solar Panels 


Overall, through our joint project we wanted to demonstrate that renewable energy  sources are accessible and cost-effective. We wished to raise-awareness of the consequences of  dependence on fossil fuels and focus on the importance of creating a sustainable future for  humanity. We aimed to show people that we need to work on increasing the use of sustainable  energy resources. For example, a solar energy panel of 1MW can meet the energy needs of 1200  households. These panels amortize their cost in an average of 7.1 years after installation.  Considering that the economic life of a solar power plant is 25 years, solar panel installation is a  profitable investment in the long term. The project’s next step will be taken in Bilkent  University. Studies have been carried out to install solar panels all over the university in the  coming year, which has opened the exciting possibility of a renewable energy campus.



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