A Woking church has achieved its dream of powering its entire building using electricity generated by the sun, following the installation of 134 solar roof panels and eight large storage batteries. 

The cutting-edge technology will allow the church to produce and store five months’ worth of its annual electricity needs, saving several tons of CO2 emissions every year.

Led by Woking United Reformed Church’s Green Team, the work began last year following a doubling of the cost of electricity. 

The Wessex Trust agreed to make a grant of 50 per cent towards the cost of environmental projects and encouraged the team to extend the scope of the project to include batteries.

After studying several options and considering the requirements of the town planning department, the panels were installed on the east- and west-facing roofs, with the work completed in September. The electricity generated from the array is estimated at 40.7MWh a year.

Surrey county councillor Will Forster also enabled the church to install the batteries by providing 50 per cent of the cost from his Community Fund allocation.

The Rev Lucy Brierley, minister of Woking URC, said: “We are very grateful to the Wessex Trust for their financial support and encouragement for the entire project. 

“Also to the John Beane Trust for a grant towards the solar panels, and Your Fund Surrey for making it possible to install the batteries.”

It will not be until mid-2024 that the full benefits of the entire system will be known. 

So far, despite a very dull December, the panels have produced nine per cent more electricity than projected. 

The total electricity produced between commissioning in mid-September and the end of 2023 was 6.4MWh, saving three tonnes of CO2.

The eight batteries, which were installed in early January, have a capacity of 46.4kWh. 

This means that for about five months each year the church should be able to produce and store enough electricity to cover 100 per cent of its requirements.

Woking United Reformed Church is listed as an eco church with silver status.

But its Green Team is working towards a gold award following the installation of the solar panels and batteries.