November 26, 2008

Vatican Going Green

Even the holy city is embracing a greener way of life as the Vatican activates a new solar energy system to power several key buildings.

The Vatican is also committing to use renewable energy for 20 percent of its needs by 2020.

The massive roof of the Vatican's "Nervi Hall," where general audiences and concerts are performed, is now covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels.

The new system will provide for all the year-round energy needs of the hall and several surrounding buildings, producing 300 kilowatt hours of clean energy a year.

However, the panels on the 5,000 square meter roof, will not be seen from below, leaving the Vatican skyline unchanged.

The German company, SolarWorld, created the system which will allow the 108-acre city-state to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225,000 kilograms and save the equivalent of 80 tons of oil each year.

The Holy See's newspaper said the Vatican is now meeting a proposal by the European Union, to install enough renewable energy sources to provide 20 percent of its needs by 2020.

An editorial in Tuesday's newspaper appealed for greater use of renewable energy.

"The gradual exhaustion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect have reached critical dimensions," the newspaper said.

The Vatican will become more autonomous from Italy by no longer having to buy energy from the country.

Pope Benedict and his predecessor John Paul put the Vatican firmly on an environmentalist footing. Benedict has made numerous appeals for the protection of the environment.

The Vatican has even played host to a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change.

Environmentalists praised the pope last year after he said mankind must listen to "the voice of the earth" or risk destroying the planet.


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