SOLAR Tour #2:
The Burgener family installed an IKEA solar energy system on the roof of their terraced family home last November – but it is not the first successful photovoltaic project for primary school teacher Christian.
A sustainable future begins with a young generation who know about renewable energy. So, primary school teacher and father of four Christian Burgener from Hettlingen is doing his bit. “In the mid 1980s, my father wanted to mount solar modules on the roof in St. Germain, a small village in Valais,” recalls Christian. It was the first attempt in the region and the planned solar modules triggered a heated debate. “Also, the modules were still so expensive that he ultimately gave up. Since then I have always been fascinated by the subject of photovoltaics.”
Solar energy and saving electricity
He fulfilled his dream of his own solar energy system around 30 years later. IKEA solar modules have adorned the roof of the terraced family home of Christian, Martina and their four children Leonie, Nicolas, Xavier and Sofie since November 2016. “Our system produces roughly as much energy as we need throughout the year,” explains Christian. “Only with optimum storage would there still be plenty of potential for the future with additional features and batteries.”
Being as economical with energy as possible has long been important to the Burgener family. “One by one, we replaced our broken or inefficient household appliances with A+++ models, first the washing machine, then the dishwasher, freezer and tumble drier. We are also currently replacing our light bulbs with LED ones,” explains Martina. “And we have been trying hard for a long time to get the children to turn the lights off when they leave a room,” Christian adds.
Even before the solar panels on his own roof, the primary school teacher initiated several school projects to show his pupils the sun’s energy potential in a playful way. “Almost 15 years ago we built small solar cars in craft lessons together with the father of one of the pupils and raced the solar-powered vehicles against one another.” Some time later, in 2011, Christian gave more special attention to photovolatics in lessons. This time on a larger scale. “The municipality of Neftenbach funded a photovoltaic system on the school roof. We covered the subject in a project week and helped to install the solar modules together with middle school pupils.”
Since then, the schoolchildren have been able to keep track of how much energy is currently being produced by the solar energy system at any time at the entrance to the school. They are getting to know solar energy as a common energy source. “In Switzerland, you are no longer strange for having a solar energy system but it is not yet seen as a matter of course,” explained Christian. He also recently gave a talk to adults in the Erneuerbare Energie Hettlingen [Renewable Energy Hettlingen] association about how seamlessly solar energy became the main source of energy for his family of six.
In the SOLAR Tour series, we are portraying families across Switzerland who are covering their electricity needs with solar energy systems. Have we piqued your interest? IKEA would be happy to advise you about switching to solar energy at any time.