Churches, mosques and synagogues in England could stand to add up to $29 million GBP (or $50 million USD) to their coffers by simply switching to solar panels. A further $5 million GBP could be saved per year just from not having to purchase electricity. By selling the green energy back to the power grid through feed-in tariffs, places of worship have a chance to regain their losses in the wake of a recession that has been particularly brutal to them.
It may sound strange: something as modern as solar technology and something as old as the church, but the architecture of most holy structures actually makes it ideal for energy gathering. Says Managing Director of British Gas, Phil Bentley: “Religious buildings are particularly well suited to solar power as they tend to have large, south-facing roofs which receive direct sunlight for the main part of the day.”
Research by British Gas has shown that Britain’s holy houses are a surprising environmental plague. With energy usage to rival that of a multi-storied office building, the total carbon emissions of every building have been totaled to a figure of up to 42,000 tonnes each year, equivalent to over 600 transatlantic flights. British Gas is keen on cutting the church’s carbon footprint, and already solar panels have been installed on the south-facing roofs of the Masjid-e-Hamza Mosque in Birmingham and London’s St Silas Church – the first batch of religious buildings to get the solar treatment in the UK. It is predicted that the Masjid-e-Hamza Mosque is set to earn 6,400 GBP a year from the tariffs alone.
This exciting prospect not only converts a large portion of buildings to green energy, but it also establishes a way for places of worship to financially sustain themselves that doesn’t involve begging their cash-strapped communion. Can I get an Amen?