A large investment into greener vehicles and solar panels makes a County Down family funeral directors the country’s first to provide solar powered funeral services.
Facing the climate crisis, century-old S. Clarke and Son Funeral Directors, started by installing 20KW of solar panels across their Bangor and Newtownards funeral churches. The success of utilizing renewable energy sources gave the business confidence to take a leap of faith on the first fully electric ambulance in Northern Ireland last year. It now uses the energy harvested from the solar panels to run the ambulance alongside its new fleet of plug-in-hybrid electric hearses and limousine. This has enabled solar energy to power most of their funeral services from the first visit with a family until the committal takes place.
Johnathan Clarke, the fourth generation of the Clarke family to work in the business, notes
“We all feel a moral duty to do what we can for the environment but often there are also great benefits that go along with embracing greener solutions. With no diesel exhaust fumes to worry about, the new hearses give families a much quieter, dignified and cleaner experience when they are walking behind them. Likewise, we also found the idea of a fully electric ambulance intimidating at first, but with Northern Ireland being so compact, range simply hasn’t been an issue. With fuel prices rising every day, we certainly have been relieved that we made the switch.”
S. Clarke and Son take this concept further by using collected rainwater to wash their vehicles. This eco-friendly idea helps to cut down on water usage with the side benefit of being cheaper to turn into de-ionised water, which allows the cars to dry completely streak free.
Innovation has been at the core of the company since its formation in 1918. In 2006 they were the first funeral directors in the world to offer a live-streaming service to enable overseas relatives to virtually attend funerals.
“The idea of live-streaming funerals was completely new, but it rapidly spread and we are encouraged to see that, amidst the heartbreak caused to grieving families by the pandemic, live-streams from funeral churches all over the world have provided some comfort to those unable to attend in person. We hope that by similar adoption of green technology funeral directors globally can help lead the way to a carbon neutral future.”
Pictured is Johnathan Clarke