A church in Wokingham is putting plans in motion to get solar panels installed on their roof. This is part of a spate of renovations to be made at the church in an attempt to go more green, in order to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and save money. This continues the theme of more and more people and organisations going for solar energy as a part of the solution to the world’s energy problem.
Whether or not they can actually go ahead with the plans however is not up to them. The English Heritage would have to approve such a proposition as it could be argued that the solar panels will ruin the look of the church. Appearance of course is an on-going problem for renewable energy of various types. The wind turbines probably get the brunt of the complaints about views being ruined, but the look of solar panels has also been criticised by some, and used as a reason not to get them.
The question here becomes, what is more important, environmentally friendly energy resources and saving money or how something looks? Well, according to the council in the city of Sheffield, what is more important is that the look of a place is conserved, not energy.
In this case, somebody wanted to have solar panels installed on their roof, however their house fell within a conservation area. In this area the appearance and character is supposed to be preserved, and council members voted 5 to 3 against the solar panels being allowed to be installed. This got one council member from the Green Party quite upset, who said that issues to do with the actual environment, carbon emissions and energy should take precedence over mere cosmetic issues.
In fact, work has been done on the design of solar panels so as to not make this so much of an issue. Solar panels are now produced which do blend in with a tiled roof, so in many cases the choice need not be made between efficiency and appearance. In any case, all that is needed to appreciate the look of solar panels is a change in perspective. Look on them as a symbol of clean living, of helping the environment, of saving money the right way. Have your house wear it as a badge of honour and be proud. In many stories, heroes are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of others; to install solar panels you have to sacrifice no more than, perhaps, the attractiveness of your roof, and that to help save the whole planet. It surely should not be a difficult decision to make.
Whether English Heritage will see it that way of course is yet to be seen, so the church in Wokingham may not get their solar energy – but at least they have seen the light. As have several churches in the UK which have got solar panels on their roofs already. In any case, nothing will stop the growing popularity of solar energy at the moment as it has never been more profitable, both in financial terms and environmentally, to have solar cells installed.