Solar Power in Congregations
Solar Energy has been gaining popularity ever since PV panels became cheap and reliable. This boom in the adoption of solar power has been witnessed since 2015. Most governments across the world are aiming to power all their public buildings and offices via solar power generation. Even large-scale companies like electronic industries and the manufacturing sector are switching to renewable sources of energy, primarily solar to power their factories.Needless to say, in this age where solar energy is seen everywhere, places of worship such as mosques, churches and temples are no exception. While these religious institutions provide social benefits they also have the opportunity to contribute to the society’s utility needs. Religious institutions are present in almost every town or city. Often there are more than one such places of religious worship within the same city. If every place of worship is equipped with solar modules, then a city as a whole can immensely benefit from it.
Solar Churches, now a Reality
The Sudbery United Methodist Church (SUMC) was recently assisted by EnergySage in Massachusetts in understanding and installing photovoltaic modules and solar power systems. While SUMC receives the benefits of every religious institution, the common trend among these centers is a lack of funds for further developmental projects.
Most states have strong net metering laws and governmental policies across the world are shifting in favor of solar energy use. If a church or a mosque identifies certain parameters then with the help of professional consultation can establish a strong solar network. Some of the things that are to be considered by the religious institutions are mentioned below.
- Available space / re-modeling –PV panels take up a significant amount of space and as such churches and other religious facilities must assess their available area and rooftop space. Added to this, churches must also assess ease of panel-racking and mounting of support structures.
- Daily load consumption- Religious institutions cater to huge crowds during congregations. They require air-conditioning equipment, audio/video systems, equipment for managing food and water for the attendees and other overheads. Solar energy can only profit if the installed modules generate energy in excess. This calls for a careful analysis and planning for load patterns. The energy that is generated after the daily loads have been met can be sold at the current market price.
- Grid-connectivity- Solar modules cannot connect with typical grids unless they are equipped to do so. The religious facilities located in various areas must inquire with their local electricity boards about the various requirements for connecting to the grid.
Solar financing is an excellent option for religious institutions as they mostly depend on contributions for their maintenance. By incorporating solar modules within the architecture of the temple or church, communities can harness clean and limitless energy. The church not only becomes a beacon for spirituality, but also a symbol for environmentalism. Installing solar panels require initial investments on panels and accessories. The church can organize special programs to raise money for the installation.