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Plymouth (UK) Church Installs State of the Art Solar Panels On Its Roof

Green makeover a money-saver for church; BUSINESS

A Plymouth church is set to save hundreds of pounds a year on its electricity bills and also to lower its carbon footprint after having state of the art solar PV panels fitted to the roof of its hall.

St Matthias Evangelical Parish Church, which serves Mutley, the city centre and the University of Plymouth, has had the 16 solar PV panels installed on the hall’s southfacing roof.
As well as reducing the church’s carbon dioxide emission by more than 2,000kg a year, the panels will generate around £1,600 in electricity bill savings and Government Feed in Tariff payments.
The Rev Paul Bryce, chaplain of the church, said: “One of our major running costs is our electricity bill, so anything we can do to reduce this – and to ensure that it doesn’t rise over the coming years – is hugely beneficial.”
The idea for solar panels started last summer when the church carried out a sustainability audit as part of the Church of England’s national Shrink the Footprint campaign, aimed at reducing emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. The audit clearly showed that installing a solar PV system would have both environmental and financial benefits.
Congregation member James Mclellan, a Royal Navy engineer who is doing an MSc degree in renewable energy, initially had the idea of installing the panels on the church itself, but it made more practical sense to use the roof of the hall.
Mr Bryce said: “We have a high number of community groups using the hall, particularly our Little Angels nursery group, which uses the facility every day.
“This means that almost all of the free energy we generate is used by us, rather than being fed back into the National Grid.”
As well as providing sustainable energy, the solar panels will also guarantee the church a generous income over the next 25 years as a result of the Feed-in Tariff scheme. The solar system, which took three days to put on the roof, was installed by Devon company SunGift Solar, which is the South West Green Energy Awards Installer of the Year. The job was particularly tricky as the roof was so steep, with no a “ridge” on which to hang a roof ladder, but SunGift staff overcame this by utilising the system’s panel rails. SunGift Solar’s managing director, Gabriel Wondrausch, said: “It’s always satisfying to install renewable energy systems for local community groups, as so many people benefit from the work.
“As the costs of utilities rise, many more churches are looking towards renewable energy, as it guarantees them lower costs over both the short and long term, and reduces their environmental impact.”
St Matthias Church has already given its congregation an information sheet about the system and access to its online statistics package so that they can monitor how much energy the panels are generating minute by minute.
Mr Bryce said: “Using a reliable local company such as SunGift Solar to carry out work like this has its definite benefits. “Not only did they fully accommodate the needs of all of the groups that use the hall, they also saved us valuable time and money by carrying out additional maintenance work on the roof and replacing a number of broken slates.
“I can’t recommend them highly enough.”

Copyright 2012 Western Morning News (Plymouth) 
All Rights Reserved

Source: Power Engineering (

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