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Vatican To Build Europe’s Largest Solar Power Plant

solar power plant, Vatican

The smallest country in the world recently announced that it intends to spend 660 million dollars to create what will effectively be Europe’s largest solar power plant. This massive 100 megawatt photovoltaic installation will provide enough energy to make the Vatican the first solar powered nation state in the world!

More than 2,000 photovoltaic panels have been fixed to the roof of one of the city state’s main buildings, enabling the Holy See to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225 tonnes a year, saving the equivalent of 80 tonnes of oil annually.In November 2008, SolarWorld AG has completed the first solar power plant for the Vatican right next to St. Peter’s Cathedral. As from today some 2,394 solar modules will generate electricity on the roof of the Papal audience hall.

‘This solar plant is designed to send out a visible signal for climate-friendly energy supply and the preservation of creation,’ said Frank H. Asbeck, Chairman and CEO of SolarWorld AG.

The solar power plant on the roof of the Paolo VI audience hall has a peak total output of 221.59 Kilowatt (KW), enough to generate some 300,000 Kilowatt hours of electricity. This is equivalent to the annual needs of more than 100 households. The generation of this volume of clean energy is designed to avoid the emission of 225,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide. The aesthetically sophisticated plant was blended into the historical ensemble of Vatican City with a great deal of technical and architectural effort. It is a gift from SolarWorld AG. The solar modules were manufactured at the SolarWorld facility in Freiberg/Saxony. The inverters were donated by SMA Solar Technology and the grid connection was planned by the Italian company Tecno Spot.

Since the beginning of his pontificate Pope Benedict XVI has promoted the causes of environmental and resource protection pointing to ‘the urgent need to discover alternative energy sources that are safe and accessible to all’. SolarWorld AG wants to support this endeavor with the highly symbolic solar plant in the Vatican. Frank H. Asbeck: ‘Our commitment to the international dissemination of solar power technology is dedicated to exactly the same objective’.

The original idea to build a solar plant in the Vatican already came about in 2002. The then Pope John Paul II had encouraged Asbeck who had presented him with a solar cell in the course of a general audience to continue in his efforts to promote the worldwide solar energy supply. The concrete contact for the implementation of the project in the Vatican came though the Catholic Community in the Bad Godesberg Rhine Quarter where community commitment and charitable work are promoted in an exemplary fashion.

SolarWorld AG is planning to support aid projects in the poorest countries of the world in at least the same order of magnitude as the solar plant in the Vatican. Through the project group Solar2World an aids orphanage, a hospital and several training centers in Africa have already been equipped with solar power systems.

Published with permission of ArchiCentral.

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