The Pope Wants a Solar-Powered Popemobile

Photo Catholic Westminster via flickr and Creative Commons license.

Pope Benedictus XVI wants to replace his gas-driven 'Popemobile' (the 'Papamobile' in Italian) with a solar-powered version, according to a cardinal of the Vatican. Benedictus wants to show his concern for the environment.

But that's not all. The Vatican has unveiled a book of the Catholic city-state's other eco-projects, including the installation of 2,700 solar panels on an 'audience hall' in 2008, a solar cooling unit in the cafeteria, and other smaller projects that have allowed the Vatican to reduce carbon emissions by 305 tons.

Of course, an electric/solar-powered security vehicle to take the Pope around is neither easy nor cheap.Currently, the Pope has a specialized custom-built Mercedes ML 430, with a 272-horsepower engine, full climate-control, and a tape deck, according to the news blog Benzinga.

Mercedes has released a hybrid-electric version of the S400 this year. The car alone has a list price of $88,825, according to BusinessWeek. Adding the bullet-proofing and other security features, especially to an electric car, would cost about $100,000 to $160,000.

Germany's SolarWorld sponsored and built the solar installations at the Vatican and is said to be in talks with the Pope on the possibility of a solar car.

According to Milan Nitzschke of SolarWorld, speaking to Vatican Radio, the panels generate more than enough energy for the auditorium on which they are installed and in fact generate 20% of the electricity needs of the entire Vatican.

Nitzschke said the main concerns of the Vatican were making an electric car powered by solar panels speedy enough to zip away in the event of danger.

Is the Pope Green? Read more about green religious figures at TreeHugger:
Will "Green" Religion Save Us or Sink Us?
God is Green: 8 Ways Religious Groups Show Their Green Beliefs
Green Patriarch Takes Environmental Lesson Online, To U.S.

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