Church to install solar panels

PIONEERING Christians in Bungay are nearing completion on a �100,000 plan to make their church greener.Emmanuel Church is undergoing a carbon reduction project that will see solar panels installed on the roofs of the church halls to power the buildings.


PIONEERING Christians in Bungay are nearing completion on a �100,000 plan to make their church greener.

Emmanuel Church is undergoing a carbon reduction project in which solar panels will be installed on the roofs of the church halls to power the buildings.

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The church has already been kitted out with more energy efficient convector heaters, and it is planned that the solar panels will be fitted by the spring.

Graham Gibbs, a member of the church who is heading the project, said he thought it would be the only church in the area to be using solar power.

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"We're putting our wish to look after God's world practically," he said. "We're not just Christians sitting on our hands and praying about it. We're getting up, putting our money in, and doing something about it."

The solar panels will be going on the roofs of the two church halls that lie at the back of the church in Rose Lane, but will also power the church. There will be 220 photovoltaic panels in total, which will replace some of the slates on the roofs.

The church chose to pay around �20,000 extra to buy panels to replace the slates, rather than more conspicuous ones that lie on the top.

There will also be a digital display unit in one of the halls to communicate exactly how much power is being generated and how much is being saved, as well as totals for the year. The panels will produce 11.44kw, an average of 10,000 units of electricity each year.

So far raised 50pc of the money required to install the solar panels has been raised through a grant from the Low Carbon Building Program, and church members are now being asked for interest free loans, while the search is on for grants. The solar panels alone will cost in the region of �80,000, but Mr Gibbs is confident they will be installed by March.

One of the solar panels will be on display at the church's Christmas fair tomorrow .

Members have already raised �22,000 for a more modern and efficient system of convector heaters, which was installed in August.

Secondary glass on the windows has been fitted to keep the heat in and low energy light bulbs are used.

Mr Gibbs said that the project had been welcomed by most groups in the town, including the town council, the Rotary Club, and Sustainable Bungay, which is looking to lower the town's carbon footprint.

"It's been a massive project," said Mr Gibbs, who is also installing his own wind turbine at his home near Harleston.

"We want it to be used as an example to the town.

"If householders can see our system working they might put a similar photovoltaic array on their roofs. Then we're getting somewhere.

"I firmly believe that in this planet of ours we've got to do something to get away from carbon fossil fuels."

If you want to take a look at one of the photovoltaic panels visit Emmanuel Church's Christmas fair tomorrow, from 10am to 1pm, which is raising money for the project.

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