A 19th Century church, built to celebrate the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo is now generating its own electricity thanks to the installation of solar panels. St Andrew’s Church, a grade-II listed church in West Midlands has benefitted from the installation of 40 solar PV panels on its roof totalling 9.8kWp of capacity. The Church hopes that the solar array will significantly reduce its energy bills as well as provide an income from the feed-in tariff scheme.  

The system was installed by Lincolnshire-based company, Freewatt, before the March 3 reference date. It is estimated that the solar PV system will save 5 tonnes of CO2 a year from being emitted into the atmosphere.

In its first five weeks of operation the 40 panels have already generated 1,000KWh of electricity – well ahead of its original target.

Vicar, the Rev Stephen Carter, said he was keen to use new technology to meet the commitment of the Church of England to reduce the church’s negative impact on the environment.

But he said the project also made sound financial sense. The investment is due to pay for itself in ten years and the church can then benefit from the feed-in tariff and lower fuel costs for another 15 years.

“We wanted to do our bit towards reducing the use of fossil fuels and we had some funds available so we decided to investigate solar panels,” said Mr Carter.

“Now we have them installed we are delighted with the result. St Andrew’s already had a rich history and it’s nice to think we’ve added our own chapter to it.”

Freewatt was chosen as the preferred installer because of its track record of working with historic and listed buildings. It was the first company to install solar panels on a church in the UK when it completed a solar scheme at St Denys’ Church in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

Julian Patrick, MD of Freewatt, said: “Working on sensitive buildings can pose tough challenges that we are experienced at overcoming. We frequently work with and help to coordinate local councils, diocesan committees, parish councils, English Heritage and grant funding bodies.

“Freewatt have developed unique mounting systems for the installation of solar PV systems specifically on ancient buildings. The sympathetic nature of the fixings has gained the approval of English Heritage on several sites across the country.

“Working on these ancient buildings carries a great responsibility that we embrace. It is very rewarding to be working on such fine buildings and doing our bit to make sure they are sustainable in the future.”