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Is Solar Power the Next Power Source for Green Cremation?

Cremation is quickly evolving to become even more eco-friendly. But is solar energy poised to become the next viable power source for crematoriums?
Solar Power
Solar power station against the blue sky. Alternative energy concept

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In 2019, architect Margot Krasojević unveiled her conceptual design for a solar-powered crematorium that was designed to be built in Santa Monica, CA. The design garnered a lot of attention and not just for it’s futuristic aesthetic and skatepark. Yes, a skatepark was a part of the design. 

The skatepark may not appeal to everyone, but most people are open to Krasojević’s idea of powering the crematorium with solar photovoltaic panels. Her design included parabolic reflectors and layers of dichroic and Fresnel glass to concentrate and capture the solar energy in a crematorium chamber. Keeping with the uber eco-friendly design, Krasojević accounted for a biomass fuel backup in case solar energy didn’t produce enough power on cloudy days. 

While this was a concept only, Krasojević was playing off an idea that isn’t new and isn’t theoretical. As more families choose cremation rather than burial, we’re developing new technology to make the process even better for the environment and people. To some, it’s simply a matter of time before cremation goes solar. But there are some real world examples that prove going solar with cremation isn’t necessarily the first choice even when people are onboard with reducing carbon emmissions.  

Going From Conceptual Solar-Powered Crematoriums to Real World Application

A decade before Margot Krasojević envisioned her solar-powered crematorium, thousands of miles away in India officials were already discussing the idea. Sun-powered crematoriums were a part of feasibility studies that showed a solar cremation chamber is a viable option for disposition. Back in 2009 the first solar crematorium in India was constructed using reflectors that heated the cremation chamber. The backup fuel source for the chamber is biogas.

It makes sense that this technology would have been implemented in India given that the country has one of the highest cremation rates in the world. In India, religion is largely at play. Almost 80% of the country’s population is Hindu, a religion that strongly supports cremation for body disposition. Hindus consider the soul and body to be separate. In fact, the body is considered to be a kind of prison for the soul, and cremation helps to release it. 

The high rate of cremations in India has drawn attention to two downsides of traditional cremation – air pollution and deforestation. The country has been battling both problems for some time as experts try to find solutions that allow for cremations to continue at the same pace without burning wood. One of those solutions is solar crematoriums.

The solar crematoriums that were proposed in one feasibility study would use a concentrating reflector to generate heat and a blower to circulate the air. While the technology does appear to work, the biggest hurtle for convincing people in India to try solar cremation rather than a wood-free cremation is religion. Hindus believe that fire is needed to fully free the soul from the body. Given this belief, it has been difficult to convince many people that solar-powered cremation chambers that don’t produce fire are a substitute for the traditional pyres that requires around 900 pounds of wood. 

Solar Crematoriums Today

Over a dozen years ago most people would have scoffed at the idea of a solar-powered cremation chamber. Back then the majority of Americans were being buried, and solar panels on a home was a relatively new thing. Today, it’s a totally different story.

We’re much more aware in 2022 about the impact traditional cremation has on the envifronment, and people are taking it seriously. There’s a concerted effort all around to make funeral services cleaner and reduce the need for resources like wood. Because of that, we’re very likely to see more solar-powered cremation chambers. The real question is, how many people will embrace the idea of cremation that’s solar powered.   

At Green Cremation Texas, we always stay informed on the latest eco-friendly crematorium technologies that help to make disposition easier on the environment and the families we serve. While these technologies may seem novel at the moment, they are the building blocks for creating a future where cremation is even more efficient and eco-friendly for everyone. 

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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