Alkham church has become Kent’s first carbon-neutral church after solar panels were installed on the roof.
The Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, blessed the solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the 13th century Grade One listed St Anthony’s Church on Sunday.
The service concluded with Bishop Trevor climbing a 12-foot ladder onto the south aisle where he stood to bless the panels.
The 16-panel array will produce about 3,300 kilowatt hours per year of electricity, about the same as that consumed by the average UK house.
Over the system’s anticipated 25 years of life, the carbon dioxide emissions savings will amount to about 42 tonnes. Since the church’s energy consumption is low, it means that St Anthony’s will now overall be carbon neutral.
The project has taken 18 months to complete and Dr Geoff Gaskill, churchwarden and project leader, said: “Being oriented east-west, all churches have a south facing roof. St Anthony’s has a south aisle roof hidden from view by a surrounding parapet which is a perfect location for solar PV and which preserves the natural beauty of the building.”
Bishop Trevor said: “As Christians we believe we have a responsibility to look after the planet and the Church of England is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of churches by 42% by 2020.
“Installing solar panels means this 13th century church is the first carbon neutral church in Kent and demonstrates how a practical step can make a big difference to the environment.”