I wrote yesterday about a Victorian textile mill installing a rooftop solar power plant, but that structure was a relative newbie compared St. Michael and All Angels Church in Withington, England. This 900-year-old house of worship has undergone a thorough green renovation to become Britain's first zero carbon church.
Featuring a biomass boiler for heat, and a solar array on the roof, solar panel suppliers Kyocera claim the church is now running on 100% renewable energy:
The 12th century building is now powered entirely by renewable energies. The solar energy is generated with 24 Kyocera solar modules — with a total output of 3.12kW — which are installed on the roof of the church. With over 35 years of experience in the industry Kyocera’s solar technology guarantees exceptional module performance and durability. Moreover, the modules were carefully installed to meet strict regulations concerning historical buildings by using a special ladder system that did not adversely affect the structure of the building or its visual appearance.
The initiative is the latest in a long line of efforts by the Church of England to go green. Given that many churches were traditionally built on a strict east/west axis, they have plenty of south-facing roof space that is ideally primed for solar energy. In fact green energy provider Ecotricity claims over 100 churches have gone solar in South West England alone, with over 300 other churches, vicarages and Church of England schools buying green energy too.
As the comments on my Victorian mill piece show, however, there are many who claim solar just does not make sense in Britain's cloudy climate. So let's just hope the church spends at least as much on insulating these drafty 900-year-old churches as they do on sticking solar on the roof.