Chester Cathedral – Solar Panels

20th February 2023

Chester Cathedral is the latest cathedral to install solar panels – part of its commitment to net zero.

Roof-mounted solar panels have been installed on the South Transept and Nave roofs of the Grade I listed Chester Cathedral over the summer and has started producing and using their own electricity.

The 206 solar panels generate 22-25% of the total energy consumption of the building and contribute to the Church of England’s aim to be Net Zero by 2030 as well as the rising energy costs required to operate large historic sites like Chester Cathedral, which has increased by 40% in the past 2 years.

The installation of solar panels comes at a time of soaring energy costs and increasing calls for improved awareness of the environmental impact of tourist and heritage sitesand demonstrates a long-term commitment by Chester Cathedral to contribute to the aims of the Church of England, Cheshire West and Chester, and the heritage sector more broadly to reduce carbon emissions and become more sustainable.

The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford said:

“Chester Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Chester and is determined to be responsible and set a good example. For us, sustainability includes ensuring that we are doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint and lessen our negative impact on our planet, and reduced costs mean we can fund the essential work carried out on our magnificent Cathedral.

“The installation of solar panels on the roof will achieve both aims, in reducing the amount of fossil fuels burnt to power our building, and in the longer-term reducing the cost required to provide this fuel,’ he added.

As they are part of the Cathedral fabric, the solar panels received a joint blessing by the Dean, Dr Tim Stratford and the Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner, pictured.

Chester Cathedral is the latest cathedral to install solar panels – part of its commitment to net zero.

Chester joins the cathedrals of Bradford, Gloucester and Salisbury in installing solar panels to reduce the amount of carbon generated on site.

In 2010 Bradford Cathedral received permission from the CFCE (Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England) English Heritage and its local planning authority to install solar photovoltaic cells and the installation of 42 PV panels were installed on the entire South Aisle roof – making it the first cathedral in the country to generate its own power.

York Minster has submitted a planning application to install 199 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle which would produce 75,000 kilowatt-hours of power every year to power the cathedral’s evening services and events.

It will be the largest of its type on any cathedral in the UK and supports the Minster’s ambitions to achieve operational net zero carbon, as outlined in its adopted Neighbourhood Plan, which sets out a 15-year route map to create a sustainable future for the Cathedral Precinct.

The application follows the successful installation and operation of solar tiles on the roof of the Precinct’s Refectory, marking the first time that solar tiles have been placed on a listed building in the city. They are already producing 11,000 kilowatt-hours of power a year.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said:

“With a climate emergency having been recognised worldwide and City of York Council having set an ambition for York to be a net zero carbon city by 2030, alongside a similar pledge by the Church of England, it is timely that we submitted this important planning application as the COP 27 conference was reaching its conclusion.

“We have committed to taking a lead on addressing the climate emergency through the implementation of our Neighbourhood Plan and have been very clear that the greatest threat to the fabric of our historic Minster, the Precinct and our many heritage properties are extreme weather events brought about by climate change.

The Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, said:

“Through our Neighbourhood Plan we have set a clear policy-led approach that is not only making positive improvements to the cathedral for both its benefit and that of the city, but is also setting a guiding example for others to follow in how heritage estates address climate change. “