RIP Solar? Gravy Way to Catch the Sunlight

June 10, 2024

The Spanish city of Valencia plans to use the graveyards as solar power plants. The project has been named RIP (Requiem in Power). It involves installing 7,000 photovoltaic panels over the graves and other structures at public cemeteries in Valencia, resulting in a total capacity of around 2.8 MW.  

The project is used in five public cemeteries: General, Cabanyal, Campanar, Benimàmet, and El Gray. The energy produced will be used for public utilities and local citizens’ households.

810 solar panels have already been installed in Grau, Campanar, and Benimàmet cemeteries, producing 440 kW per year. The energy will mostly be used to power municipal buildings, but 25% will also go to 1,000 low-income households.

Valencia is not the first one. Previously, the solar panels were installed in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, near Barcelona in 2009.

Example of the solar panels installed in Santa Coloma de Gramenet

Source Yahoo News

Lesson for the US?

Very many solar power plants will not be built due to issues with zoning laws, land acquisition, and land use changes. Potential environmental problems also do not add points because solar power projects often require environmental impact assessments to identify potential adverse effects on local ecosystems, wildlife, and vegetation. That does not mention disputes with local communities. 

Existing cemeteries have already checked these boxes:

  • Land Utilization: Cemeteries often have large areas of unused land, making them suitable for solar panel installations without competing with other land uses like agriculture or housing.
  • Minimized Environmental Impact: Since cemeteries are already developed areas, installing solar panels can have less environmental impact compared to undeveloped land or sensitive ecosystems.
  • Community Benefits: Solar projects can provide renewable energy to the local community, potentially reducing electricity costs and contributing to local sustainability goals.
  • Preservation of Open Space: Solar panels can be installed in a way that preserves the cemetery’s open and green nature, maintaining its aesthetic and functional qualities.
  • Dual-Use Land: Cemeteries can maximize land use efficiency by serving their primary function as burial grounds and secondary function as sites for renewable energy generation.

Potential Outcomes

There is no exact number of cemeteries in the US. However, the official amount of the cemeteries with legal ownership is 25,000. These are municipal, military, profit, and non-profit cemeteries. In other words, those cemeteries have a particular owner to whom you may talk to discuss the solar panel installations. 

One acre of the American cemetery may fit appr. 2000 solar panels. Given that one solar panel can provide 300 watts per hour or 1,5 kW per day. So, the average cemetery can produce 3000 kW per day, or approx. 1000 MW of pure solar energy per year. That is enough to power around 1000 households per year.

Why only 1,5 kW per day? American history answers. Blogger Joshua Stevens has done historical research and created a map of 144,847 graveyards and cemeteries in 2018 (official and non-registered). Most of the graveyards are in the eastern part of the USA, and they depict the deadly parts of American history, such as the battles of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. These states get the average amount of sunshine.

The map of the America’s afterlife

Source  Joshua Stevens

Installing The Deadman’s power plant with 2000 solar panels will cost up to $2 mln. Federal and local state incentives can decrease the upfront up to 50%. Therefore, such projects could be affordable by local communities.

Morality, Traditions, and Environment

Of course, building solar plants in cemeteries could face cultural and emotional challenges. Cemeteries are places of remembrance and mourning, by some individuals and communit may see installing solar panels as disrespectfulies. 

But look at religious Spain! If those conservative Catholics are OK with this idea, then why not?

Since the COVID pandemic, American burial traditions have shifted from traditional burial to cremation (purely economic reasons while cremation is cheaper) and even from cremation to “natural/green” burying (due to the environmental issues associated with chemicals for embalming that are poisoning the soil and carbon footprint of the cremation). 

These trends show that there is no reason for new cemeteries to appear, but we can use the old ones to build a healthy and safe environment for the next generations.

Talk to your neighbors and community members, and visit our website, SolarPowerSystems, and see the best choice of solar installers in your area. They would give advice and information about solar incentives and propose their plan to turn the local cemetery into a power plant. For the good of the future generation.

Andriy Ryzhyy
Andriy Ryzhyy

Andriy Ryzhyy is a Research Expert and Copywriter at Solar Power Systems. Andriy’s experience in digital marketing automation and renewable energy sources, passion for applying mathematical principles to real-life tasks, and devotion to developing eco-friendly energy resources—a commitment shared with the rest of the team—are crucial in shaping the company’s strategy for presenting accurate and user-friendly information on solar technology.