German church benefits greatly from early installed solar panels


Central Europe


Photo epd-bild, Tristan Vankann

A small parish in the Bremen area installed a vast solar system 17 years ago already. It now benefits greatly when the sun shines upon its roof, which is wholly covered by solar panels.

The roof of the church building in Seckenhausen glows a deep blue when the sun is shining. During these moments, the amount of electricity flowing into the local energy network shows a peak. For already 17 years, the solar system on the building has probably the largest in northern Germany, Evangelisch.de writes.

In total, the solar panels cover 600 square metres. They can generate 41,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually if there is enough sunlight. Every kilowatt hour generates 53 cents for the parish. These are the old prices; anyone installing new panels nowadays only gets a fraction of that amount.

The system, which cost 200,000 euros at the time, has long been paid off, Patrick Bakker, the chairman of the church council, says to Evangelisch.de. “It has brought in up to 20,000 euros every year.” At the same time, money was never the aim of the church. “Here it was about climate protection. The initiators wanted to preserve creation and encourage people to care about the environment”, pastor Heinemeyer who serves the congregation, says.

Today, the climate is an important topic for many churches, but that was different in 2005, Lüder Lammers says. He has also been a member of the church council for several years already. “At the time, equipping the church roof with renewable energy was a big fight, which the pastor of that time fought bravely and with determination.” because the church administration resisted strongly, the congregation paid for the system with private loans.


Financing has always been a significant obstacle for churches desiring to install a solar system, energy expert Benhöfer says. “For church districts to grant a loan, they need an analysis of the profitability. Up to now, these calculations have always been done very conservatively. As a result, the decision was mostly negative.” In addition, not all churches could install solar panels on the roof because they were under monumental protection. This difficulty has partially been solved, as the authorities of Lower Saxony have liberated their requirements a little because of the war in Ukraine, which led to an energy crisis.

Benhöfer says that there have been significantly more inquiries and concrete projects since that time. “A real cultural change is also taking place in the church offices for the care of buildings and art.”

Charging station

The beneficial tariff for excess electricity from the solar panels will expire soon for the church in the Bremen area. Now the question arises of what to do with the extra energy. “We could also run the heating electrically”, church leader Lammers says. Pastor Heinemeyer sees a different solution: “We could also set up charging stations for electric cars in town.”



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