Solar panels are great. So is architectural conservation. But what should we do when historic buildings want to incorporate cutting edge clean energy technology?
It’s probably always going to be a balancing act.
But Business Green reports on an impressive project over in the UK, in which the 1,000 year old Gloucester Cathedral has installed 150 solar panels in an effort to cut its environmental impact. Mypower, the installers, claim it’s the oldest building in the UK—and maybe the world—to install a commercial-size solar array.
Of course, cathedrals have one big advantage over many other historic sites: They are really, really tall. And the fact that they are surrounded by ornate buttresses and gargoyles and other fancy architecture means that the solar panels will mostly be hidden from the ground—meaning the cathedral gets to cut its energy costs by a quarter without really compromising its historic, architectural integrity.
Interestingly, cathedrals and other older churches also have another benefit when it comes to going solar. Namely, they were usually built pointing directly from east to west—leaving a huge area of south-facing roof that’s ideally placed for maximum solar gain.
Given that the Church of England has declared climate change “a great demon”, and has even divested itself from the dirtiest fossil fuels, I suspect we will see many more churches going solar as the costs come down.