Churches across Wales are being challenged to help every community in the country become self-sufficient for its own energy needs by 2050.
The call came from the governing body of the Church in Wales (Anglican), meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity St Davids at Lampeter last week.
Welsh communities are being invited to play a crucial role in revolutionising the way the nation is powered by encouraging energy projects at grassroots level.
For example, the civic group at Cwm Arian in Pembrokeshire has plans for two wind turbines which would be owned by the community. The turbines would give the community an annual profit of £200,000 from energy sold to the national grid.
The money would stay in the locality and would be used to support community groups and also to start investigation into social enterprise businesses which would be owned by the community.
Another example comes from St Joseph’s Church, Cwmaman, in the Cynon Valley. The church is powered by 30 solar panels in its roof which enable it to power the building which is used for parish and community activities every day and also to sell electricity to the national grid.
Addressing members of the governing body of the Church in Wales / Eglwys yng Nghymru, Peter Davies, Sustainable Development Commissioner for Wales, warned that radical action was needed in order for Wales to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and double its supply of electricity.
Davies outlined his vision for churches to help communities meet their own energy needs through small scale wind, solar and hydro turbines.
He declared: “Wales faces a major challenge in moving to a secure, affordable, low carbon energy supply over the period to 2050. We are confronted with the need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases generated by our use of energy, while also recognising that there are real threats to both the security and availability of energy supply over that period. The pace of change is going to have to increase dramatically."
“The provision of renewable energy by and for communities is an idea whose time has come. There is clearly a role for Government in major energy projects, but ensuring a sustainable energy supply can also be tackled from the bottom up. There is now real opportunity for individuals, communities and neighbourhoods to come together to both reduce the use of energy and also to generate their own energy," Davies added.
He concluded: “The Church in Wales can play a key role in developing these local solutions and being an exemplar through its own actions in reducing energy use and in encouraging local energy generation.”
Governing body members voted unanimously to call on both the UK and Welsh Assembly governments to take urgent action to secure the provision of sustainable energy supplies, and also on all members of the Church to reduce their personal energy consumption.
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Rev John Davies said: “The created order is a precious gift to all people, whether they view it from a religious perspective or not. But we believe it is the responsibility of the Church to urge everyone to do their part to ensure that our shared resources are managed carefully in ways that are sustainable so that they will be available to the next generation."
“Our churches are at the heart of local communities and are therefore well placed to lead or inspire projects which can generate renewable energy for the use of that community,” the bishop declared.