Solar churches 'could light up Britain'

workers install solar panels on church roof

workers install solar panels on church roof

Britain's churches and other religious buildings could raise £34 million a year by installing solar panels, according to new figures from the British Gas Green Streets programme, which were unveiled on Monday.

British Gas' research shows that solar panels on Britain's religious buildings could generate over £29 million a year through Feed-In Tariffs, a scheme which pays households and organisations for generating "green" electricity.

They could also make further savings of nearly £5 million a year by not having to buy electricity, as their energy needs would be met through the solar panels.

This money-making potential will be a welcome revelation to churches and other religious buildings that have been hit hard by the recession over the last few years. A recent report found that a quarter of all 44 Church of England dioceses are running deficits.

As well as improving their finances, Britain's religious buildings could also do their bit to help protect the environment, as the CO2 savings could also be significant - up to 42,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, which is equivalent to the carbon emitted by over 600 transatlantic flights.

Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas, said: "These potential savings are great news for the UK's religious buildings and their congregations, and give them the opportunity to lead their communities in tackling climate change and helping Britain move towards a low carbon society. Religious buildings are particularly well suited to solar power as they tend to have large south-facing rooves which receive direct sunlight for the main part of the day.

"The Government's Feed-In Tariff scheme is the key to unlocking the potential of solar power in Britain. As Britain's energy company, we at British Gas are committed to helping households, business and community and faith groups make the most of this opportunity to cut their carbon footprint and earn money for the electricity they generate."

Rev Paul Richards, Vicar of St Silas Church in Pentonville, London, said: "The Church of England is committed to saving energy and becoming greener throughout the UK and the potential for solar panels on our churches is an exciting prospect. Even though not all UK churches could adopt this model due to planning and architectural conservation laws, there may be thousands of Church of England buildings out there that could help create a greener future by generating clean energy as well as some much needed income."

British Gas is already installing solar panels on religious buildings to help them raise funds through the scheme and cut their carbon footprint.

The Vatican installed solar panels on the roof of the Pope Paul VI Hall in November 2008. See:  ICN 'Vatican goes solar'

Source: ICN/British Gas

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