St George's Church, Rugby

St George’s Church in the town of Rugby will soon be a lot more sustainable thanks to Warwickshire County Council’s Green Shoots Fund.

The £1m Green Shoots Community Climate Change Fund is allocated by Warwickshire County Council, to support a wide array of small, community-powered initiatives across Warwickshire in addressing the climate change emergency.

St George’s Church was successful in their Green Shoots bid for £23,000 in funding to deliver:

  • The fitting of solar panels on the roof of St George’s Church
  • Up to 25kW of renewable energy, the majority of which is exported back into the local grid, increasing the national renewable energy proportion
  • Power to heat the church hall during the winter months, using the energy generated by the solar panels

The three key outcomes that will be delivered by these upgrades are:

  1. A proportion of the electricity generated is used to power the air source heat pump, lighting and appliances within the church hall, which is well-used by the community, minimising fuel bills.
  2. Generating power for the wider community by exporting the remaining electricity into the local grid.
  3. A saving of 168 tCO2 over a 25-year proposed lifespan of the installation.

The story began when St George’s Church initially communicated their desire to reach net zero by 2030 in the parish newsletter LINK, which is delivered to 1500 households. In response to the newsletter, a resident informed the church of Warwickshire’s Green Shoots Fund, at which point the project began to take shape.

The roof of St George’s Church was identified to be an ideal installation place for solar panels, with over 400 square meters of flat surface allowing the installation of 70 panels.

St George’s Church is backing the Church of England’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030 and this project is seen as part of that target. The church has been developing awareness of environmental issues within the community as well as encouraging residents to engage fully in protecting the environment.

The long-term effects of the project could well be significant. Assuming a 25-year lifespan, the project will offer a saving of 168 tCO2.

A proportion of the electricity generated will be used to power the heat pump, lights and appliances within the church hall, which accommodates a wide range of community groups, from a regular playgroup to Brownies, coffee mornings and yoga classes.

The project will reduce the church’s energy bills and minimise the impact future energy price rises may have, as the solar installation will provide a sustainable source of power.

It’s estimated that the church will use a quarter of the electricity generated by the solar installation within the church and hall, with the remainder being exported back into the grid to benefit the local community.

Work on the church is expected to be completed in February 2022.

Phil Hemsley, member of the Parochial Church Council at St George’s Church, Rugby, said: “Climate change is such a critical issue that we all need to do all that we can. At St George’s we can see how to actually become carbon negative using heat pumps for heating, LED lighting and by generating electricity from solar panels, and reducing heat loss by improved glazing. 

"As with similar community-focused projects, this all needs funding and this important solar PV project would not have proceeded without the Green Shoots grant. We are looking forward to turning some of next year’s sunshine into electricity and hoping that future Green Shoots grants might help us turn some of our other projects into a reality.”

Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture, said: “The installation at St George’s Church epitomises why we’re so committed to a community-powered Warwickshire, with a community building playing a prominent role.

“The project takes full advantage of the church’s roof structure with an innovative design that will deliver clean energy for use by the church and the wider community. The church has identified the importance of addressing the climate emergency whilst still serving the needs of the community.

“St George’s is a fantastic example of what Green Shoots Funding can achieve and I look forward to following the progress of this project over the coming months.”

Further information about St George’s Church, Rugby, can be found here: https://www.stgeorgesrugby.org.uk/

A full list of projects that will receive Green Shoots Community Climate Change funding can be found here: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/news/article/2324/green-shoots-will-soon-be-springing-up-across-warwickshire-as-projects-set-to-receive-a-share-of-wcc-s-1-million-community-climate-change-fund-are-announced    

For more information about the Fund, visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/greenshootsfund

For more information about how Warwickshire is facing the challenges of the climate change emergency, visit: https://www.warwickshireclimateemergency.org.uk/  

Get the latest news about how Warwickshire County Council and partners are facing the challenge of the climate emergency and how you can get involved: http://eepurl.com/hrk-zf

Published: 30th November 2021