A 900-year-old North Somerset church has recently completed a 3.6kWp solar installation.

The 15-panel project on St Bridget’s Church in Chelvey was completed by local installers Solarsense. The Grade 1 building is the oldest in the Diocese of Bath and Wells to benefit from solar energy, while across England only two other parish churches with PV panels are older than St Bridget’s.

The age and Grade 1 status of the church meant that Chelvey parochial church council had to apply to the diocesan advisory committee on church buildings for special permission for the installation. Once this was granted they then had to obtain planning consent from North Somerset Council and English Heritage.

St Bridget’s Church will generate ~2,500kWh each year and earn a feed-in tariff scheme that will reduce the church’s running costs and almost 1,400kg of carbon dioxide emissions per annum.

Churchwarden Tony Stirratt said: “The results from our solar panels are even better than we expected. We have already had people from outside the diocese asking about them and we hope that the success of our solar PV will encourage more churches to install their own.”

Steve Barrett of Solarsense said: “St Bridget’s is our local church as well as a historic building so we are delighted to have been able to install carefully tailored solar PV that not only saves the congregation money but also blends in with the church’s historic fabric.”

Ruth Wilkinson, who leads the Shrink the Footprint project run by the Church of England, said: “Our national target is to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and sensitively carried out installations such as that at Chelvey will help us achieve that goal.”