Solar Panels




As a sign of that hope, and of our calling as human beings to look after the planet, we are trying our best to make the building we gather in environmentally responsible.

Our team has prepared some briefing information which may be helpful if this is something you are considering.

Why did St Mark’s install solar panels?

St Mark’s Church has high energy needs firstly because it is in constant use (it is used by around 900 people a week) and secondly because there is a large space to heat in this grade II listed building.

St Mark’s PCC felt that the panels should be installed for 2 reasons:

1. The impact of global warming falls disproportionately on the poorer nations and as Christians it is important that we demonstrate love of our global neighbours. We are hoping that the publicity from the installation will encourage others to look at reducing their carbon footprint.

2. The return on the investment  (ROI) was projected to be around 10%  & therefore it was a good investment for the church.

Choosing the right system

St Mark’s has a south facing, low pitch roof, which is ideal for solar generation. The bottom edge of the roof has a parapet wall, which obscures the view of the panels, and so there is no visual impact on the building. Photographs of the roof were taken at various time points during a day to enable the team to identify the best place to locate the panels. The parapet wall will cause some shading on the lower row of panels when the sun is low but each row of panels are wired to a separate inverter so that if shading falls on the lower panels, the inverter will only switch off the bottom row whilst the two upper rows continue to generate. The planning consent prevented us from moving the panels higher up on the roof to prevent the shading issues.

Other systems were considered but thought to be inadequate:

•Solar thermal (hot water heating)- too expensive to retrofit.

•Ground source heat pump- due to the size of the building & restrictions on insulation it was considered there would not be enough heat generated to cover the costs of installation.

•Biomass generator or boiler: the church is not ready to replace its boiler. The flue may not be an option in a listed building.

For advice on choosing a system:

Process for church & timescale-
6 onsite surveys were done and the following criteria were assessed:

• How to maintain the integrity of the roof

• How ethical the supplier is (where this information was available)

• Expected annual benefit & ROI

• The number, type & efficiency of panels each proposer suggested

• The number of inverters to be used, expected lifespan & the cost to replace them

• Warranties on panels & inverters & what the insurance guarantee backs

• Ensuring that the quotes were fully inclusive

• Ensuring there wouldn’t be any problems with connecting to the consumer unit.

David Barclay Electrical & Solar designed what was considered to be the best system and at the most competitive price.

Their system has 39 x 245KW REC panels in 3 rows of 13. REC is a Norwegian company with a good ethical record. The panels have a 63 month workmanship warranty.

The Diehl Ako inverters are covered by a 10yr warranty, which is better than the other inverters that were investigated.

All work is insured for 25 years, as is the performance of the panels (90% efficiency guaranteed after 10 yrs and 80% after 25 years). The company is MCS accredited and so if Barclay Electrical went bankrupt, the panels are still covered by the insurance.

Process start: Oct 2010

Parochial Church Council: Approval 16Jun2011

Diocesan Advisory Committee approval: 7th Sep 2011

Planning approval: 05th Oct 2011

Announcement that FIT will be cut by 50% for installations after 12th Dec 2011: 03rd Nov 2011

Award of WREN grant: 28th Nov 2011

Archdeacons sign off: Nov 2011

Installation: 09th Dec 2011

Costs & Funding: £24,480 (including VAT) for the installation of the panels.

Total costs including Smart water, Architects fees & planning costs: £26,791.22

WREN provided a grant for £17000, £1870 had to be paid to the landfill operator so in effect we received £15130 from WREN which covered 57% of the total costs.

The EDF Green Fund application was not successful.

Generation data & payback time

The system is calculated to generate 8100KWh based on the SAP calculation (SAP calculation calculates the output of a solar PV system according to the Government’s Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings), however from 9Dec11 to 16Apr12, 1546KWh has been generated which is 11% more than would be expected for this period.

For each KWh generated, St Mark’s receives 39.6 pence which is index linked to the RPI. Therefore St Mark’s is expected to receive around £3000 p.a. in FIT payments. In addition, around £500 p.a. will be saved on electricity costs. Any excess electricity that is not used during the day is sold back to the grid at 0.03p/KWh.

The estimated payback time is 3-4 yr.

In addition over 7000kg of carbon will be saved each year as a result of the clean generation.


As part of the planning application, the local police looked at our application and advised there have been a couple of thefts of solar panels. Each panel is individually registered to the purchaser so if panels are stolen they can only be used to provide free electricity and they cannot be used to claim the feed in tariff. St Mark’s took additional measures to ensure the security of the panels but naturally we cannot provide details.

For more information, contact Michelle Hayes through the church office.

Press Release:

St Mark’s Church has taken huge steps to becoming “carbon neutral” by having 39 solar panels fitted to its roof.

The solar panels were recently installed, in freezing slippery conditions, by David Barclay Electrical and Solar.  The company worked round the clock to ensure that the panels were fitted before the drastic reduction of the government’s Feed in Tariff scheme on 11th December. The green energy provider Good Energy also played an important role as they worked during the weekend to ensure they received as many applications for the Feed in Tariff prior to the deadline.

“It’s not just about power and financial efficiency,” says Revd Guy Donegan-Cross, vicar of St Mark’s.  “It’s about doing our bit to take seriously our call from God to look after the planet.”

The panels have been chosen from an ethical supplier, produce the best output of energy, and have been installed to meet the planning requirements of a Grade 2 listed building.  “They will generate around 8,200 KWh each year which will save the equivalent of 3,500kg of CO2 a year,” says Michelle Hayes, from St Mark’s Environment Group.  “That’s, the equivalent of the CO2 generated by 9,500 car miles.”

The Environment group were delighted to receive a grant to cover 56% of the costs from WREN. WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community projects from funds donated by Waste Recycling Group (WRG) to the Landfill Communities Fund. Peter Cox, managing director of WREN, said: “WREN makes a difference to people’s lives by awarding grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK. We’re delighted to support St Mark’s and their valuable work.”

Attaching the panels to the south aisle roof of the church, meaning that their visibility is reduced, was not easy.  But David Barclay Electrical and Solar designed a bespoke system, working closely with Council and Church planning bodies.

The panels will be officially “launched” by Andrew Jones M.P. on the morning of Saturday 21st April as part of the “Let there be light!” Energy and Environment Conference. More details to follow.

For more information, contact Michelle Hayes through the church office.



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