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Solar Panels On Church Roofs

You cannot fail but to be aware of how big a profile energy conservation has not only here in the UK but also in Europe and the Rest of the World.

Churches have a tremendous opportunity to support this on going worldwide aim of significantly impacting positively on conserving energy.

So, why is this?

Well, there are over 16,000 Anglican churches in England on top of which there are around a further 20,000 churches from other denominations. That is an awful lot of roofs that could have solar panels on them especially when you consider that many church roofs tend to be higher off the ground than a house so are less likely to be obstructed by trees. Furthermore many have one side of the roof facing south.

Even if only half the Anglican churches were considered suitable there would be a potential huge benefit to have 8,000 roofs with solar panels installed.

How often have you sat in a cold church because they cannot afford to heat it? Solar panels could be an excellent solution. Installing them on a church roof would need not only planning permission but also the authorities in the Church would need to support such a project.

That is perhaps not the biggest hurdle to overcome as cost is more likely to be the stumbling block.

The Government has a challenging target to meet introduced by the European Union in respect of the reduction of carbon emissions and the encouragement of green sources of energy. The target is that by 2020 a 42% saving has been made.

In 2008, the European Commission came to the conclusion that “well-adapted feed-in tariff (FIT) regimes are generally the most efficient and effective support schemes for promoting renewable electricity”.  This entailed the consumer using the electricity that had been produced by the likes of solar panels and selling any surplus to the National Grid at an agreed tariff.

The Government then made available to UK households an appealing Feed in Tariff making it an attractive financial proposition for householders to install such systems.

Commercial premises and other properties took an interest as well. In Coventry the authorities at Coventry Cathedral agreed to invest £100,000 and install 178 solar panels that was forecast to generate as much as 50 kilowatts of electricity per annum.

When the Government made the announcement that the Feed in Tariff was to be reduced by 50% the project at Coventry Cathedral was dropped as it was no longer financially viable. The hierarchy within the Church of England would no doubt have monitored the results of that project and potentially further church roofs may have been adorned with solar panels.

However, St George’s church in Newbury did manage to beat the Feed in Tariff reduction deadline and had 129 solar panels installed projecting 20,000 kilowatts per year. Bearing in mind that the church was only estimating using 9,000 kilowatts per year the surplus is to be sold to National Grid hopefully generating around £8,000 to £9,000 per year.

The increase in solar panel installations that had been seen in the UK has reduced substantially yet in Germany in 2011 20% of their electricity was from renewable sources with Feed in Tariffs supporting 70%.

It would appear that the Government needs to seriously reconsider its policy in this respect if it is to meet its targets.

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