Let There Be Light! Solar power in Glasgow

You may think that Scotland is not the ideal place to pioneer a new initiative for solar-powered churches. With a reputation for rain and grey clouds, the climate does not appear to lend itself to the idea of capturing energy from sunlight.
But in one Glasgow church the parishioners have defied the weather and said “let there be light” as they look to the skies to avoid the soaring costs of heating and energy bills.

The parish of St Robert Bellarmine in Pollok has embraced state-of-the-art technology and opted for a modern and ethical alternative to fossil fuel by installing 120 separate solar panels on the roof of their church.

The church is the third within the Archdiocese of Glasgow to make the move into renewable solar energy as, collectively; they look for ways to combat both rising fuel bills and damage to the environment.

St Robert Bellarmine’s conversion to renewable energy is the largest-scale project for a church in the whole of Scotland, and the 30kw array of PV panels exemplifies the benefits of solar-powered energy for modern homes, businesses and public places.

In the case of St Robert Bellarmine, the panels will not only reduce fuel bills, but are expected to generate a modest income through unused solar energy which is then sold back to the power grid. In the parish bulletin, Father Neil McGarrity noted that “It is astonishing to see the disc of the electricity meter going backwards!”

And whilst the church estimates that it will receive up to £3800 a year from the grid in unused energy, the incentives are more than simply financial ones. The solar panels will provide affordable heating for the church: guaranteeing not only a more pleasant experience for parishioners, but also alleviating the threat of rot to the building’s structure. But whereas visitors may notice the benefits to the immediate environment with a warmer and more comfortable hall, the positive impact of renewable energy reaches far beyond the confines of the church walls.

As public bodies, government schemes and communities such as St Robert Bellarmine parish church continue to support and invest in solar power, the facilities that become available for further research and investment into renewable energy will grow. And with the development of the technology, we will begin to see advancements in efficiency and energy capture. This will provide the basis for future generations to enjoy a world where an ever-increasing portion of our energy is sourced directly from the sun.

With the success of the scheme at St Robert Bellarmine parish church, it surely will not be long before we can expect to see similar solar energy initiatives being adopted by Glasgow schools and businesses as well as home owners looking to play their part in a sustainable future.

When planning your trip to and staying in one of the delightful Glasgow hotels, why not pop in to St Bellarmine’s  and take a look at how Glasgow is stepping forward into renewable energy and see the church in all its glory.