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Cornish Church Lights The Way For Solar Energy

Two 3.84kWp systems, installed in banks of 16 photovoltaic (electricity) solar panels have been installed on the roofs of Lanner Methodist Church and Church Hall by Cornish based sustainable energy company Enact Energy to help the Church harness the power of the sun and by doing so not only save hundreds of pounds in electricity bills every year but generate around £33,000* in Feed-in Tariff payments and bill savings over the next 25 years.

The project to introduce solar energy at Lanner – one of only a handful of Methodist churches around the UK, which has so far turned to solar – has been spearheaded by Church Steward and retired environmental scientist and keen ecologist Euan McPhee after he had solar panels fitted to his own home.

“I’ve been interested in environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions for a long time, as long as 30 years ago when we fitted our home with low-energy lighting, so when I had solar panels fitted to my home and was really pleased with the whole experience I thought it would be a great opportunity for the church to not only reduce its electricity bills but receive annual payments for having solar, so recommended to the Church Council that we do the same,” said Mr McPhee.

However the Church faced a race against time to beat the deadline to secure the 21p FiT which it did with the help of the congregation and a local councillor.

“We had the full support of the church membership, while our local councilor Mark Kaczmarek was very helpful in ensuring we got the necessary planning permission and Lanner Parish Council also wrote in support of the scheme, so it was a real team effort.

“Hopefully this will be the start of a project that will make the church a beacon of renewable energy. For example the Church and Church Hall are heated by oil-fired central heating which costs about £3,000 a year and so in the future we are looking at installing ground or air source heat pumps as well as introducing LED lighting,” he added.

John Moores of Enact Energy – which was recently named at one of only 22 companies in the UK to become pioneers of the Government’s multi-billion pound Green Deal initiative – said solar energy and other renewable energy technologies provided churches with a great opportunity to reduce what are often costly energy bills.

“We are delighted that we have been able to help the congregation at Lanner Methodist Church make major in-roads into cutting its electricity bills and enjoy the benefits of Feed-in Tariff payments over the next 25 years.

“There is no doubt that through solar initiatives and looking forward to the Green Deal, which will be launched in October 2012, community hub’s such as churches, which are usually based in large, energy-inefficient buildings will really be able to reduce their energy usage, but significantly reduce their costs,” said John.

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