Last week I published a post in which I calculated my negative impact on the planet and how many earths we would need if everybody lived like me, considering we only have one. The biggest category in this calculation is stuff. And a big part of that for me were solar panels I bought. In the calculation that seems negative, because it’s something you buy new. But today I want to tell you why I think it’s a positive thing and how I buy solar panels.
I would recommend getting solar panels to anyone. If you then have enough energy to sustain yourself in your energy consumption, you don’t need any of the earth’s resources and that is sustainable. You can heat your house with electricity, cook your meals, charge your car and electronics, heat your water, it can all be electric. Besides that it’s sustainable, it saves you money in the long term too. You save money on your electricity bill. And sometimes you can return the remaining energy you’ve generated yourself and don’t need, back to the net. It’s a win for the earth and a win for you!
Boundaries for solar panels
Yet sometimes, there are boundaries. When you rent a house for example, an investment would be a waste. Luckily in The Netherlands you can rent solar panels as well, at GreenChoice for example. If there’s an environmental cause to you not being able to have solar panels, for example when there are trees surrounding your house and you won’t generate any energy from the sun, I would then recommend trying another source of renewable energy. With a windmill or using the earth’s warmth. For me, there’s sort of an environmental reason too, because I live with my parents. I can’t force them to buy solar panels and I shouldn’t want that anyway. But that doesn’t have to stop me! I can buy solar panels anyway. Not on my house, but on public buildings.
This reason can apply for you too if you have solar panels already, but want to do more! If you invest money in any kind of way, or want to. This is both a way to invest your savings but also try to stop carbon emissions. And also, it’s a way to act without the government. Personally, I don’t think our government has the right morals. They say one thing, but don’t act alike. They say climate change is an issue, but they don’t act on it. And aside from voting for a green party (I vote the greenest, Partij voor de Dieren), this is your way to take matters in your own hand. We will do it ourselves!
ZonnepanelenDelen (A Dutch word for sharing solar panels) is the company I mostly do this with. I first read about them a year ago in this amazing book I read and wrote a blogpost about, Het Hedendaagse Heldenboek. It’s a company that raises money to place solar panels on buildings. These can be public building, but also private. It could be a school, but also a local car-dealer. Those are usually buildings nobody acts on. When a project is started, you can invest the amount of money you like, starting at 25 euros. When the total amount of money for the project is needed the solar project is built. That simple! The amount of money you invest is paid back to you in 25 years, so if you choose to invest 25 euros in a project you get 1 euro back each year. And on top of that, interest. There’s an expected amount of interest in each project, but it’s not guaranteed. It depends on whether the sun shines of course haha! The more sun, the more interest.
Starting your own project
And there’s another side to this platform. You can start your own project! So let’s say you talk to your local school or library, saying you want to put in effort to make sure they have solar panels. You can contact ZonnePanelenDelen and discuss the possibilities. So if you’re frustrated with any company because they don’t have solar panels, this can change the game, you can change the game! Same goes for the government, we are not going to wait for them. Hell no.
I’ve personally invested twice now, in two projects. The first time I invested 25 euros and the second time 100 euros. From these 125 euros I earn about 49 cents of interest a month. It’s not a lot you might say, but that’s almost 5% interest. The more you invest, the more interest you’ll get of course. I save about 4,1 kg of CO2 a month with just this tiny investment. All projects so far have been successful, they always pay back your money. And so far, together we’ve placed 300.000 solar panels already, wiehoee! I am a student so I don’t have that much money to invest, but whenever I can I will. That’s the great thing about this, you can start investing from just 25 euros. You can also connect it to your energy supplier so that the money you earn is compensated with your energy bill. I can’t do that since I live with my parents (that’s why there are some question-marks in the image below). My overall experience with this company is good. They send you updates along the way, from when they will start to build to your monthly results. They also have some certifications and they work with well-known partners.
So, if you’re thinking on saving or investing money, this is the way to go. The interest is higher than on a savings account and with this investment you can reach two goals. More money and sustainability! What do you think?