Christian Aid, a major religious charity based in London, says that more than 5,500 churches in the UK are now using 100% renewable energy to power their operations. In all, there are more than 16,000 places of worship in the country, with the Anglican church accounting for more than 6,000 of them.
“Renewable energy is now a mainstream power source,” Emma Pinchbeck, the executive director of RenewableUK, tells CNBC. “Any organization that takes tackling climate change seriously would want to make sure it’s taking full advantage of our bountiful natural resources, including wind, wave, and tidal power,” she adds.
The largest contributor to the switch to renewable is Parish Buying, the procurement agency for the Church of England. It negotiates for all the electricity and natural gas used by its member churches. With its power to dictate terms to suppliers, it has now made certain all electricity delivered to its constituents comes from renewable sources based in the UK.
Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, says in a statement, “Climate change is one of the great moral challenges of our time and so it’s fantastic to see churches doing their bit to ensure they reduce their impact on the environment. They are also giving a boost to clean energy, which is essential to reduce harmful carbon emissions.”
UK Purchasing group 2Buy2 helps churches, schools, and businesses combine their buying power to get the best obtainable price for their purchases. It says the average church in England uses about $1,300 a year in electricity. The combined effect of so many of them switching to renewables means fossil fuel companies are losing around $6.5 million in annual sales to religious organizations.
Not all that renewable energy is being piped in from afar. Some churches in the UK have installed rooftop solar systems on their buildings so they can generate their own renewable energy directly. The Gloucester Cathedral was the first to lead the way when it installed 120 solar panels on its roof in 2016.
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