Portholme Church powers to national award nomination

April 11, 2024

A Selby church which has been a key player in a groundbreaking energy project across Yorkshire has been nominated for a prestigious national award.

The initiative, which is run by the Yorkshire North and East Methodist District, (YNEMD) is one of just five schemes to be shortlisted in the People’s Energy (UK) category of the 2024 Ashden Awards, for which there were more than 500 applicants. The project, which is called “Tea and PV” and is funded by Centrica’s Energy For Tomorrow fund, has seen seven churches invested with solar panels and these have produced enough energy to make over one million cups of tea.

Portholme Church, on Portholme Road in Selby, has produced over 10,500kWh of electricity from its 56 solar panels, enough for over 400,000 cups of tea on its own, as part of the pioneering scheme. Tim O’Brien, net zero officer for YNEMD, said: “The name of the project, ‘Tea and PV’, tells you a lot about our thinking. PV stands for photovoltaic, which are the solar panels we’ve been putting on churches across our region, but the ‘tea’ part is just as important.” He said: “This project is not just about delivering infrastructure, it’s about delivering a message as well. The Methodist Church is synonymous with cups of tea, so we wanted to have conversations over cups of tea about the sustainable nature of the church, and to communicate it to the users of those buildings.” Tim believes the church has a huge role to play in raising awareness among communities about the positive impact renewable energy can make. He said: “Some are more informed about these topics than others but the point of ‘Tea and PV’ is to give everyone a chance to talk about the changes and move towards a sustainable future together.” Tim also feels the scheme plays strongly into the history of the Methodist Church. “In the 19th century the Methodist Church was known for its social activism - my vision is that, in the 21st century, we're known for our environmental activism. I think it’s a core mission for all faith groups that they should see this as a matter of justice.” The Ashden Awards will be held on Thursday 27 June and if they win the People’s Energy (UK) category, YNEMD will be given a £10,000 prize which will be invested back into community schemes.

Portholme Church whose 54 solar panels have generated enough power to make 400,000 cups of tea. (04-04-310 ST CG)

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