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Vatican to Become First Solar-Powered Nation State in the World

On April 17th, 2009, the Vatican made giant strides toward becoming the first solar-powered nation state in the world. The church turned on the 2,400 PV panels with an estimated system cost of about $1.6 million. The system will provide 300 MWh per year for the 6,600 seat Nevi Hall and surrounding buildings.

According to Bloomberg.com, the church also has plans for a solar farm to be located north of Rome at a system size of 100 megawatts, which will supply approximately 40,000 households with solar energy. Counting the Pope, cardinals and staff, there are around 900 inhabitants in a nation state occupying just below one square mile. Astoundingly, the installation will provide nine times what the Vatican Radio station will need - commendable considering the station’s transmission reaches 35 countries (plus Asia!).

The rooftop installation is made possible by two German companies, SolarWorld and SMA Solar Technology, which donated and engineered the system. The companies will also benefit from the Vatican’s plans for future installations, such as the reported $660,000 million dollar solar plant will allow the city state to begin exporting solar energy to Italy. The solar system will allow Vatican city to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225 tons and save the equivalent of 80 tons of oil per year.

These aren’t the only environmentally friendly activities Pope Benedict has in the works. There are ideas being tossed around about a low-carbon or even electric Popemobile, as well as word of a methane capture facility at the Pope’s horse stables.

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