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Solar Blessing

16 December 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

The first of 150 solar panels has been installed at Gloucester Cathedral in the opening phase of a remarkable project.

The Reverend Canon Celia Thomson had laid the inaugural panel on the lead roof of the Nave in October, which was joined by a further 149 by November 2016. The panels are being installed by Gloucestershire based renewable energy company Mypower. It is the latest significant milestone for Gloucestershire’s most popular tourist destination, famed for hosting the coronation of King Henry III, as the final resting place of King Edward II and the location for three of the Harry Potter films.

Once the work is completed, the 1,000-year-old building will become the oldest Cathedral in the UK, and possibly the world, to have installed a commercial sized solar panel PV system on its roof.

As the Nave roof is 30 metres above the ground, all the solar panels will be virtually invisible from the surrounding area.


Project Pilgrim

The hi-tech equipment – a key part of the £6 million Project Pilgrim scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – is expected to reduce the Cathedral’s energy costs by 25 per cent. Mypower’s MD Ben Harrison said: “It’s been fantastic to be involved in an important project like this that you can really put your heart and soul into and do the best possible job for the client – we’ve gained a huge amount of satisfaction from that. “The historic nature of the building means we have encountered various issues to resolve but nothing that the team can’t handle.

“At times it’s been extremely tight in terms of manoeuvrability around parts of the site, particularly when the work required us to work just inches away from centuries-old gargoyles but we put strategies and measures in place to protect the building from any damage."

The Reverend Canon Celia Thomson said: “The installation of solar panels on this remarkable building is a historic moment. We are thrilled that our vision to become a greener Cathedral is being fulfilled and proud to make a valuable contribution to the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign.”


Fancy a cuppa?

The system will generate 27,500kW of energy a year - enough to power seven semi-detached houses or make 250,000 cups of tea.

The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, switched on the solar panels for the first time on Monday, November 21. To mark the historic occasion, Dean Stephen blessed the panels from the 100ft high nave roof and the cathedral’s famous tower was illuminated green. Dean Stephen said: “Gloucester Cathedral has a great tradition for combining the old with the new. By embracing this very modern technology, we are celebrating God’s gift of creation and making this remarkable building a greener and more sustainable place for future generations."

Picture: The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester blessed the panels from the 100ft high nave roof and the cathedral’s famous tower was illuminated green

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 16 December 2016


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