Vatican Powered From Above

Cindy Zimmerman

The Vatican has unveiled a new book detailing the Holy See’s solar power initiatives.

“The Energy of the Sun in the Vatican” was presented last week during a press conference by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. It details two solar projects undertaken by the Vatican in the last two years – the installation of 2,400 solar panels on the roof of the Vatican audience hall in 2008 and a solar cooling unit for the main cafeteria in 2009. Both projects were the work of German-based SolarWorld, one of the world’s largest solar energy businesses. The Vatican reports that the solar projects have resulted in saving about 305 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Vatican City, which is a sovereign city-state consisting of about 110 acres with a population of around 800 people, has a goal of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2020, the target date set by the European Union for its members. That is likely to include a fleet of electric vehicles and possibly a solar-powered electric Popemobile. That idea was discussed during last week’s press conference by Cardinal Lajolo and Milan Nitzscke, communications director for SolarWorld.

The cardinal said if a sponsor offered the pope an electric-powered vehicle that “was in working order, efficient and suitable, why not? It would be a sign of his environmental concern.” Nitzscke said the Pope’s customized vehicle could be powered with electricity from solar panels. “This is something we have to discuss with the people who are in charge of the security aspect, but of course this is possible,” he said. Because the popemobile is bulletproof, the car would be heavier than most electric vehicles so it would be a challenge to design one that could accelerate quickly.

The current traveling Popemobile is a modified white Mercedes-Benz with bullet-proof windows.

Electric Vehicles, International, Solar