written by: Rose Kivi•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 10/24/2011
The Pope VI Auditorium in the Vatican is being equipped with solar roof panels as one of the first projects in the Vatican to produce renewable energy. Will people follow the Vatican's lead and go solar?
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Vatican's Decision to go Solar
Pope Benedict XVI, elected in 2005, is perhaps the most environmentally conscious Pope in recent history. The Catholic News Service quoted the Pope as saying in the beginning of September 2007, "Humanity cannot continue its present pattern of exploiting natural resources". It is not surprising that the Vatican would choose solar as a renewable energy source. The sunny weather in Vatican City lends itself as an ideal area for harnessing solar energy. The Catholic News Service reported that the Vatican has plans to install a solar panel system on the roof of the Vatican's employee cafeteria and is researching ways to utilize additional renewable energy systems and other green technologies in the Vatican City.
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Solar Roof Panels on the Pope VI Auditorium
The Pope VI Auditorium will be fitted with over 2,000 solar roof panels. The solar roof panels were donated to the Vatican by Solar World AG, a company in Bonn. Solar World estimates that the solar power system will generate approximately 315,000 kWh a year. The solar energy will be used to provide energy for lighting, heating, and cooling inside the Pope VI Auditorium. The Auditorium is used for weekly worship services when the weather is not conducive for outside services. When the Auditorium is not in use, the energy produced by the solar energy system will be sent to the Vatican's energy network to help provide energy for other buildings in the Vatican City.
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Will Others Follow the Vatican's Example?
The European Commission has set the goal for Europe to have a minimum of twenty percent of their energy used, come from renewable sources. Italy has been slow to embrace solar energy in the past. More recently, the use of solar energy in Italy has increased and the Vatican's example will likely increase Italy's solar usage even further.
It is probable that many Catholic Churches and individual Catholics will follow the example made by their religious leader and install solar energy systems.
The Pope and the Vatican are a respected presence by many throughout the world. It is plausible that environmental statements made by Pope Benedict XVI and the use of solar energy in the Vatican, will set an example that many will choose to follow.