93 solar panels were recently installed on the roof of Salisbury Cathedral as part of a plan to become carbon-neutral by 2030. They provide the cathedral with 33,708 kilowatt hours of clean energy, while lowering its carbon footprint by an impressive 11,764kg every year. The panels are jointly owned by a group of local, small and ethical investors with the shared goal of fostering the widespread adoption of renewable energy and lowering carbon emissions across the country. This particular installation comes hot on the heels of the setting of the UK’s peak solar power generation record.

Net-zero carbon footprint by 2030

In addition to the installation of solar panels, Salisbury Cathedral is embarking on a number of other environmental initiatives, such as switching to green tariff energy, draught-proofing the entirety of the medieval cathedral, and installing energy-efficient LED lighting. “The Church of England is working hard towards a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030,” said Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury. “As the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, I am delighted that Salisbury Cathedral is making a contribution that takes us towards this. With clear purpose and helpful partnerships, even iconic buildings can make a difference towards sustainability.” Impressively, the bishop climbed onto the roof of the south cloister (some 35 feet high) to see the panels for himself (they can’t be viewed from the ground). He’s also recently signed a letter asking the Government to prioritise the environment and lowering carbon emissions in its future.

The benefits of solar power

Switching to solar energy plays a crucial role in lowering carbon emissions — an average home solar PV system can save roughly 1.3-1.6 tonnes of carbon every year (depending on exactly where in the UK you live), according to the Energy Saving Trust. Solar panels can also be hugely beneficial for businesses. Commercial solar installation can lower carbon footprints while generating free energy — one kWh of electricity costs approximately 14p, so it’s easy to see how solar energy can slash overheads. Additionally, the ability to generate electricity freely without relying on the National Grid and increasing energy prices can make budgeting and forecasting a simpler job.

Solar energy helps UK carbon emissions reach record low 

On April 20th of this year, the UK achieved a record peak of 9.68 GW of solar generation, the Sheffield Solar Live PV Gen Tracker tells us. The previous record was set on June 30th 2019, when solar power generated 9% of the UK’s electricity. As a result, carbon emissions fell to a record low of 97g/kWh. The massive installation of solar technology across the country over the past decade combined with the recent unusually bright and sunny weather are responsible for this promising improvement.

With impressive environmental and financial benefits, solar energy is certainly the way forward. As such, the widespread adoption of solar power and lowering of carbon emissions is expected to continue into the future.

Sam Allcock