The Salvos and climate change
By MAJOR PETER McGUIGAN
In Australia, The Salvation Army is committed nationwide to remedial action towards reversing environmental decline. For example, right now the Salvos are exploring introducing electric vehicles to their fleet, which already comprises a significant number of hybrid cars.
One significant commitment The Salvation Army has made is to transition their properties across Australia from carbon-based energy to solar power. A 15-year renewable energy partnership with AGL was announced last November in which the energy supplier will install solar energy systems at more than 850 Salvation Army sites. The goal is to reduce the Salvos’ greenhouse emissions by at least 17,500 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent.
It would also generate substantial savings on running costs, noted Salvation Army Chief Secretary Colonel Winsome Merrett as she launched the project, freeing up additional funds to resource the Salvos’ frontline work in Australia.
The first site commissioned was in Coburg (Vic.), and significant work has been done to progress the project nationally in the last five months. In a recent update, the Salvos Environmental Projects Coordinator, Elyse Anderson, said that the current solar capacity is around 2.15 megawatts (MW) and that 134 sites had been completed.
“Over the coming months, around 4.02 MW will be installed on commercial sites,” she confirmed, “bringing us to a total of 6.17 MW.”
As well as the Salvos mission sites, Elyse reported that solar installations in several Salvation Army officers (pastors) quarters had been completed in the Northern Territory and South Australia. These had been the result of government rebates that were no longer available. Future residential installations would be a part of the partnership between The Salvation Army and AGL. It is anticipated that commercial installations will be completed by August 2023.
The joint venture with AGL will also position the Salvos to decarbonise their mobile outreach services through trial battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at select locations across Australia.