Photo via the Florida Catholic
The tiniest state in the world—that'd be the Vatican—has some big plans for solar power. The Pope, an outspoken proponent of fighting climate change, is moving to build the largest solar power plant in Europe on 740 acres of land near the medieval village of Santa Maria di Galeria. At $660 million, the project would also be one of the most expensive—but it would eventually turn the small state (the Vatican has around 900 residents) into a major power exporter. The solar station would go online in 2014, and would reportedly initially produce 100 megawatts of power—enough to provide electricity to 40,000 homes in Italy. The energy generated would also provide 9 times the power needed to run the Vatican radio, which reaches 35 countries as far as Asia.
It's estimated that the plant would spare 91,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
The project is deemed a "wise investment" by the Pope and his advisers. Italy currently offers alternative energy incentives like requiring utility companies to buy solar power for above market prices, according to Bloomberg.
The pope is no stranger to solar ambitions--he had the company Solarworld install $1.5 million worth of photovoltaic panels on the "6,300-seat dome used for the pope's weekly audiences to the world's Roman Catholics."
Also, it looks like yet another solar system will heat the Vatican eatery (from Bloomberg):
"The Vatican's 300-seat cafeteria for staff will be decked out this summer with a solar-heating system to provide air conditioning and heating for the whole building."
The Pope is something of an ideological environmentalist, apparently. In addition to adding "pollution" to a list of social sins that date back to the 6th Century, he's spoken out on protecting the earth:
"The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the Earth's resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development."
More (solar) power to him. Well, I think it's safe to grant ol' Pope Benedict an award we somehow missed in our Best of Green series—Most Solar Powered Pope ever.