Bradford Cathedral has received permission from the CFCE (Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England) and English Heritage to install solar photo voltaic cells. Following planning permission being granted by Bradford Council, work will start shortly and be completed by the end of the month (August) installing panels on the entire South Aisle roof – making it the first cathedral in the country, and possibly in the world, to generate its own power.
Cathedral architect Ulrike Knox, of Knox-McConnell Architects in Saltaire, led the project through the permissions process for this historic heritage building.
Since obtaining Eco-congregation status last year – the first Northern cathedral to achieve the award – the move towards solar generated electricity was the next logical step. Canon Andrew Williams, who leads the Cathedral’s Eco Group, said "We have been working hard over the past five years, not only to become more sustainable ourselves, but to encourage members of our congregation to work hard in their own homes and work places to do the same.
We’ve changed all our light bulbs, introduced recycling and composting, and installed efficient boilers. We also run a Fairtrade stall every Sunday morning. We’re delighted to be the first cathedral to be installing PV cells on our roof. Whilst it would be naive of us to say that the financial benefits are not important, a key reason for doing this is to reduce our carbon footprint. A 2006 report by the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology has calculated a carbon footprint of less than 60g per kW from PV in the UK, compared to 10 times as much for fossil fuels.
More recent research suggests that the total greenhouse gas emission for electricity from PV panel is between 20 and 80g CO2 under UK conditions. This is ten times lower than the emissions for electricity from fossil fuels whilst electricity from coal can be as high as 1000g/kW. The net ecological benefit of PV Cells is not contested. Results of research vary between six months and two and a half years as to the CO2 recovery- in other words the CO2 used in manufacturing the cells is paid back at least within the first three years of its use. As production increases with the high demand for panels, the ‘payback’ time goes down. At present it would be safe to state that the PV Cells pay back their CO2 emissions in two years in good conditions".
The Dean, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, said "I am very proud of our Eco Group, and our congregation, for what they have achieved. We are most grateful to the assistance and guidance of the CFCE and English Heritage for their help and support during our application – and also Sundog Energy, our chosen supplier, for their sympathetic handling of this unique project."
Martin Cotterell, one of the original solar pioneers and founder of Sundog Energy said "I am delighted we have been selected for this exceptional installation which has tremendous iconic status. Our high technical standards mean that the PV system will maintain the integrity of this historic building while producing clean electricity for decades to come."