Seeing is believing: that’s the idea behind the Sun in the City (Zon in de Stad in Dutch) initiative that encourages city dwellers to power their houses and apartments with solar panels. In small towns across Europe, rooftop solar panels spread quickly when people get inspired by the panels on their neighbor’s roof. That’s however not the case in many cities, where solar panels on rooftops often cannot be seen from the street. Sun in the City is bringing the “neighbor mechanism” from the countryside to the city.
Solar shields help locals connect and share their knowledge
The Rotterdam alderman for energy transition launched the campaign for more solar roofs in the city in July 2018 by installing the first solar shield in Rotterdam. Sun in the City is distributing little shields that owners and users of solar panels can attach to their doorposts to show neighbors and passers-by that there are solar panels on the roof. People interested in solar panels will find it easier to connect with neighbors and get first-hand information and learn about their experiences. Solar roof owners can add a sticker adding: ‘for more information: ring the door’ if they like. The solar shields enable local residents interested in solar energy to connect with their neighbors and to get first-hand information on getting their own solar roof easily.
Solar hubs installed in streets and parks
Secondly, a number of solar hubs installed in streets, parks and squares offer the benefits of solar power directly to everyone passing by. The solar hubs provide charging facilities for phones and electric bikes, internet hotspots or light art at night. A solar hub invites people to make use of the public space, connects neighbors and makes them experience the positive impact of solar power together. Finally, technical and practical information made available in the neighborhoods will further support local residents’ enhanced enthusiasm for solar energy.
Zon in de Stad is piloted and launched in Rotterdam. It is an initiative of Climate Focus and Personal Architecture, supported by the City of Rotterdam and the Province of South Holland.