Over 3,500 Christian churches across the UK have or are planning to switch their electricity supply to renewable energy.
The announcement by an alliance of charities marks the start of Creationtide – a season to celebrate creation – that runs from 1 September to 4 October.
A third of Quaker meeting houses, most of the Salvation Army’s sites, and around 2,000 churches from 16 Catholic dioceses, have signed up to switch from fossil fuels to renewables for their energy needs.
In a bid to lead the way toward cleaner energy use and ditch fossil fuels, thousands of UK churches have or are planning to switch their electricity supply to renewable energy.
After Pope Francis published an encyclical letter “on care for our common home” – where he called for a committed fight against global warming – the Catholic Church urged the UN to agree to “complete decarbonization” by 2050.
Although the number of churches that have switched so far are only a small proportion of the 50,000 or Christian churches estimated to be active across the UK, many church leaders see the movement growing.
Loretta Minghella, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, says:
“This action by thousands of churches shows a groundswell of public support for renewables to which governments must respond by doing all they can to shift to a clean energy future.”
Not the easiest buildings convert to renewables
Churches and associated buildings are not the easiest of places to convert to renewable energy, most of which is required for heating. Options include fitting solar panels, small-scale wind turbines, and ground or air-source heat pumps. Parishes can also choose to have their electricity from green suppliers.
To ease the process of switching to renewables and away from fossil fuels, churches can express interest and get a quote via the Big Church Switch.
John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, one of the dioceses to have made the switch, comments that:
“There are many ways in which we may respond to the threat and the reality of climate change and adopting renewable energy for our church buildings must be a priority.”
He adds that “by adopting renewable energy we will directly help people threatened, and most severely affected, by climate change.”
Many churches have fitted solar panels
In 2015, a quarter of electricity generated in the UK came from renewables. This proportion is expected to rise to meet the EU target of 30 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.
Sources of renewable energy include wind, wave, marine, hydro, biomass, and solar.
Hundreds of churches have already opted for the solar panel route, while other developments include the first carbon-neutral churches.
Solar energy broke a record in June, when solar generation alone reached a new peak of delivering almost a quarter of UK’s electricity demand.
While most the UK’s installed solar capacity comes from utility-scale solar farms, estimates released earlier this year suggest there are also just over 1 million solar homes.