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Benedict XVI proves to be a "Green Pope"

August 3rd 2009

Energy Topics - Papal solar panels
Papal solar panels

Pope Benedict XVI's home near Regensburg, Germany will become a solar-power generator. Workers donated some 580 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels to install on his house's rooftop. The solar panels should generate about 5,800 kilowatt hours of energy a year, which corresponds to saving 11 barrels of petroleum. Besides, the project is expected to produce income for the pontiff in the amount of $3,500 a year, by providing the German electricity grid with energy. According to Vatican sources, the money produced will go to an association that offers job training to disadvantaged young people.

The pope approved the project, but no church funds were used. Local workers donated the panels and students at a trade school installed the panels. The pope had the house built in 1970 in the Pentling suburb of  Regensburg after he moved there to teach at  the University of Regensburg.

The "Green Pope," in the same environmentalist vein, is expected to meet with race-car drivers participating in an eco-rally in mid-September 2009. The 248-mile race will begin September 19 and end the next day and involve the world's two smallest independent states: the Republic of San Marino and the Vatican State, or Holy See.

Drivers will race 20 vehicles that run on so-called clean energy, such as methane or liquefied petroleum gas. Of these, some will be flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on a number of alternative fuels, while others will be electric-powered. However, vehicles using only electricity will race over a shorter distance. After reaching the finish line at Pope Benedict's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, the drivers will then meet the pope and participate in the regular noontime prayers to be held in the courtyard of the papal residence.

Pope Benedict is the first pontiff to use solar energy to power-up the Vatican itself. Deteriorting concrete roof tiles on the Paul VI auditorium, where pilgrims can get a glimpse of the pope during general audiences, were replaced in 2008 with photovoltaic cells. Engineers at the time of the installation predicted that the 2,700 solar cells would be able to convert enough solar energy into electricity to provide light and air conditioning to the 6,000 seat hall.  When the hall is not in use, the electric energy produced would go to the grid within the Vatican complex. The panels, reportedly worth $1.5 million, were donated as a gift to the pontiff by the German company, Solar World.

Pope Benedict has called on the faithful to defend the environment with a "correct ecological perspective", while specifically calling on young people "to support and practice ways of behavior that help to appreciate and defend nature from a correct ecological perspective."

Martin Barillas edits www.SperoForum.com and www.EnergyPublisher.com.


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