Solar power increasingly popular with houses of worship

Solar power increasingly popular with houses of worship

The rates for PV installations have dropped by a remarkable 73 percent over the course of the last eight years, which made houses of worship like churches, mosques, synagogues and others develop a growing interest in solar power.


Renewable energies are trending, and companies and private households are not the only ones developing a strong interest in purchasing their own solar power installations. As the rates for the installations have dropped by 73 percent since 2009 (from about 7,50 USD per kilowatt to 2 USD per kilowatt) and the installation process is becoming easier, a growing number of houses of worship around the world has decided to invest in this source of energy.


Transition made easy by funding or sharing

Various churches in the United States are among theses places of worship to make the transition. The process is made easier for them by a tax rebate program as well as both federal and state funding programs.

Innovative Power Systems in Roseville, MN, is a power company that works with almost a dozen local churches. Andy Stahlman, one of their sales representatives, explains that “when IPS contracts with a faith community or other nonprofit, it owns the solar power system, so nonprofits don’t pay out of pocket and the developer receives both federal tax rebates and part of the organization’s electric bill credit.”

For those who are nonetheless struggling with the costs, which can range from 20.000 USD to 1 million USD, working with a partner is an alternative that is often considered. Many religious organizations have teamed up with their community and created a solar garden that is shared by everybody.


Fears of rejection are often hindering decision towards solar power

Some houses of worship are concerned that an investment into solar power made purely for environmental reasons might not be accepted or appreciated by the congregation, as opinions on the climate change differ. However, the majority is adamant that the preservation of the earth is among their duties.

Patrick Helsingius was the project manager for the transition of a Methodist church in Massachussetts that decided to switch to solar power a few years ago. “Doing the right thing for the environment may not necessarily be the primary driving force, but it’s consistent with the mission of the church– being good stewards of the earth,” he said. “The solar system could be a powerful statement to the community of what the church stands for and what our values are.”

The church can now meet 75 – 99 percent of their energy needs through solar power, thus saving as much as 5.000 USD a year.


Further support planned for communities wanting to switch to solar

An additional bill credit may be approved in March 2017 by the Public Utilities Commission. It is designed for this particular target group: non-profit faith groups. Along with the other means of support for religious communities that decide to go for solar power, it will make the transition, decision and financing even easier. As a result, the access to solar is no longer limited to large companies. Low-income faith organizations, who until recently didn’t usually consider solar an option, are finding this out and using it for their benefit.

Experts believe that this is only the beginning of what will be a steadily growing number of places of worship going solar. Now other countries need to follow the example of the United States and offer programs to make the transition easier and more appealing.


Title image: Denis Apel via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-2.0-DE