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Editor's Note: Originally published in August of 2012.

A Sikh temple is harnessing the sun's rays to supply its electricity.

Leicester's Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, in Evington, has installed 400 solar panels on its roof in what leaders believe is a first for any temple in England.

SolarPanels (119K)

The £125,000 environmental project has been funded entirely by worshipers and the city's wider Sikh community.

Surinderpal Singh Rai, general secretary of the Gurdwara, in East Park Road, said the temple's spiralling electricity bill had forced them to take action.

He said: "It's a huge four-storey building which used to be a shoe warehouse.

"Our electricity bill was pushing £1,700 a month and it was becoming a real burden."

The temple welcomes more than 25,000 visitors a week for daily prayers, community meals, after school classes, a day care centre for the elderly and respite care for the families of adults with learning difficulties.

Mr Rai said: "The costs were becoming prohibitive and so when we saw this opportunity we went for it.

"The panels will power the whole building and save us about £600,000 over the next 20 years.

"They will have paid for themselves within a matter of years and the result is we can use the savings to invest in services for the community.

"On top of all that, we are also doing out little bit to help protect our environment."

Mr Rai said he wanted to thank supporters who had helped raise funds.

"We would like to thank the whole community for rallying around us," he said.

"We've been taken aback by their enthusiasm and generosity. It is a wonderful achievement and something everyone should be very proud of."

The panels were fitted by Midlands Solar Panels Ltd.

The Gurdwara has been praised by environmental campaigners for setting an example to other organisations and businesses across the city.

Gavin Fletcher, conservation team leader for environmental charity Groundwork Leicester, said: "You often see people who have lots of money invest in solar panels, but for a community to come together and pool their resources in this way is fantastic and a great example of what can be achieved.

"We'd love to feature the temple's story in our Eco-House in Western Park."

Rory Palmer, deputy city mayor with responsibility for the environment, said: "I would like to congratulate the Gurdwara for this ambitious and inspiring project, which will reduce their carbon emissions and energy costs.

"It's just the sort of action we want to see from organisations in the city as we look to cut our carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2025. The temple is setting a great example."


Picture of the Week:

This unusual shot of eight members of a Sikh temple up on the roof of their place of worship is the Leicester Mercury's Picture of the Week.

Photographer Mike Sewell created the fascinating image at Leicester's Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara in Evington.

SolarPanelPic (154K)

Mike used a Nikon D3 camera and a 14-24mm wide-angled lens to get the shot of the temple members among the solar panels on the roof. He said: "I wanted to show the scale of the project so I placed members of the temple committee along each row of the solar panels.

"By putting Mangal Singh, the president of the committee, at the front it gives a focal point to the image. We got on to the roof by a little hatch on the top floor."

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