Last yearInhabitat reportedthat the Vatican was spending $660 million on a massive 100MW photovoltaic installation that would effectively be Europe’s largest solar power plant. Now complete and in operation, the installation of this array has not only made Vatican City the first solar powered nation state in the world, but according to the state’s official newspaper, it is now the greenest state in the world.

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The newspaperOsservatore Romano reported that with the completion of the giant solar panels in the state, “the Vatican has reached a small record in solar energy power production per capita: 200 watts at peak times [… ]per inhabitant, compared to 80 in Germany, the world leader in this field.”

As Vatican City is the smallest state in the world, it does not exactly require a large amount of renewable energy to achieve this title. However, the city’s solar installations, which include solar panels installed on the rooftop of Paul VI’s conference hall, mean that the city can now generate enough energy to power all of its 40,000 households.

The main solar array is located on a 740 acre site near Santa Maria di Galeria, but the solar panels that were installed on Paul VI’s conference hall were put in two years ago and are estimated to have saved the Vatican 89.84 tons in oil.  It is no wonder that the Italian media has dubbed Pope Benedict XVI the “green pope”.

But solar power is not the only thing the Vatican is doing to make the state as green as possible. There are rumors that Vatican officials are researching a more environmentally friendly equivalent to the Pope’s world famous vehicle – The Pope-Mobile. It is hoped that an electric vehicle can be found to substitute the iconic motor vehicle that is used by the Pope when visiting foreign states or making outdoor public appearances.

The Vatican cafeteria is also planning on installing a solar heating system that will be able to provide heating and cooling for staff. It is even noted that the Pope’s summer residence is being outfitted to harness the methane generated by the horse stables!

Clearly His Holiness believes in reducing his city’s greenhouse gas emissions – something that makes you wonder why other world leaders are not as concerned.

+ L’Osservatore Romano

via AFP