Diocese of London celebrates completion of first solar tiled church roof

St Silas Church, Pentonville, has celebrated the completion of its solar tiled roof with a "topping out" ceremony.

The last tile was signed and laid by parish priest, Father Shaun Richards who was joined by local dignitaries and representatives of organisations which helped fund the work, including Islington Council.

The ceremony marks the end of a journey that started in the summer of 2008 when it was decided that the church needed a new roof after heavy rainfall broke through the old roof and damaged the inside of the church.

St Silas is the first church with a solar tile roof in the Diocese of London and may be the first in the whole of the country. The project is unique in that it uses solar tiles that were designed to be a similar colour and size as those on the slate roof it replaced, making it possible for the church to be more environmentally friendly without altering the appearance of the roof.

More widely, the project is part of a move within the Diocese of London to make climate change a priority with the Diocese setting itself the target of reducing its emissions by 20.12% by 2012. St Silas is a powerful example of how churches can take the lead on climate change, not least because it sits in one of the most deprived area of London.

Father Richards said: "The church community and local people have pulled out all the stops, The Big Solar Roof project would have been a non starter without their commitment and pioneering spirit."

The scaffolding surrounding the church is due to be removed the day after the ceremony and the solar tiles will begin generating power from the moment it is cleared away and will generate an estimated 47% of power requirements.

The tiles will also reduce the church carbon emissions by over 7000 kg per annum and St Silas will even sell green energy back to the National Grid using the feed-in-tariffs scheme launched recently by the Government.

The Church has raised a phenomenal £270,000 in donations towards the project, including the biggest donations from Islington Council’s climate change fund and the Low Carbon Buildings programme.

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres said: “The vision of the diocese is that every church should be in the business of capturing power from above and contributing to the national grid. St Silas has achieved this in a visual and effective way.”

Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment Challenge at the Diocese of London attended the event and said: "St Silas' Church is an emblem of the kind of determined action we all need to take to shrink our energy use and carbon emissions. The people of St Silas have proved that our many historic churches can play a big part without losing what makes them special for us."

Kevin O'Leary, Islington Council's corporate director of environment and regeneration, said: "This roof is a pioneering way of tackling climate change and we were pleased to support it.

"Like the church, the council is committed to tackling carbon emissions. Our funding for this roof came from our £4 million Climate Change Fund, which has funded more than 150 projects."