The Revd Jeremy Fletcher Writes:
Reducing the Footprint
There are lots of ways to generate electricity. Some of them leave a lasting footprint. Coal and Gas produce carbon, which accelerates global warming. Nuclear power produces waste which needs careful management for thousands of years.
Wind and water are increasingly used to provide ‘cleaner’ energy, and an obvious further source is the power of the sun. ‘Solar’ panels can be used to make hot water, and photovoltaic panels generate electricity. The newest ones simply need light, not sunshine. The Government sees the potential of this kind of energy production, and is making it financially worthwhile.
The Church of England is keen to play its part in reducing carbon emissions, with a target of an 80% reduction by 2050, and 42% by 2020 – only nine years away. Most strikingly, ancient churches all face the same way, with their largest expanse of roof getting maximum sunlight. And Beverley Minster’s roof is never shaded. Its potential for generating electricity is huge!
At the PCC on Monday 24 January we heard from Steve George, of the architects at NPS (and a long standing member of our congregation). With his architect daughter Alexa he encouraged us to think about how we might use the building to generate clean power. Could we install photovoltaic cells? What would the problems and opportunities be? What can we learn from other churches who have done this (like St James’ Piccadilly and St Denys’ Sleaford)?
NPS have offered to undertake a free feasibility study so that we can answer the technical, social, financial and aesthetic questions we will all have. In three months time we will have a better idea of what might be possible, and the PCC will discuss it again. It might be that it is technically too difficult. It may be that very visible panels won’t be acceptable to people in the community. But we must ask all the questions, and weigh up all the arguments. At Sleaford they are saving 4.5 tonnes of carbon a year – and lots of money too.
Jeremy has offered to share the results of this consultation and feasibility (whether positive or negative) so that we may all learn more about the implications of installing these new technologies on and around our historic churches.