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The Vatican's solar panels are the subject of a new book

December 8, 2010:

Solar panels on the roof of the Vatican

Two years after the Vatican installed its solar energy panels, the Holy See has released a book entitled The Energy of the Sun in the Vatican.

The book outlines the development of the two renewable energy projects within the Vatican City walls: the solar cooling plant above the cafeteria and the photovoltaic plant on top of the Paul VI Audience Hall.

Speaking at the book launch this week, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, said solar energy had “unlimited possibilities” and was hugely important in the face of climate change which, he added, was not only a problem of ecology but “impacts international justice and peace”.

Milan Nitzschke, vice president of SolarWorld, the German-based company that sponsored and built the Vatican’s solar installations, said the Vatican was setting an example to the rest of the world.

The solar panels produce around 20% of the electricity needed in the Vatican, and the installations had been done sensitively and without affecting the Vatican City’s beautiful architecture, he added.

Earlier this year, the Vatican’s official daily newspaper said the tiny Vatican City was now by far the world's most environmentally friendly state. Osservatore Romano said it produced 200 watts of solar energy per inhabitant at peak times, compared to 80 watts per inhabitant in Germany, the world leader in this field. However, the Vatican City has the smallest number of people of any sovereign state, with a population of only 800 people.

Osservatore Romano said that the panels installed on the Paul VI conference hall two years ago had saved the Vatican the equivalent of 89.84 tons of oil.

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