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Solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican in 2010 (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis has appointed two special commissioners to start work on building an agrivoltaic system on a Vatican property outside of Rome that could supply the whole of Vatican City’s energy needs. Source: OSV News.

“There is a need to make a transition to a model of sustainable development that reduces greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, establishing the goal of climate neutrality,” he said in an apostolic letter issued motu proprio (on his own initiative).

The letter, titled “Brother Sun,” was dated June 21, the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. The Vatican published the letter yesterday.

“Humanity has the technological means needed to tackle this environmental transformation and its pernicious ethical, social, economic and political consequences, and among these, solar energy plays a key role,” he wrote.

The Pope called for the building of an agrivoltaic plant on Vatican property about 18 kilometres outside of Rome in the area of Santa Maria di Galeria, where an array of short wave directional antennas of Vatican Radio are located.

Agrivoltaic systems are a series of solar panels that coexist with crops, livestock or both, such as by having panel arrays on top of greenhouses, interleaved among fields or elevated above them so they can still be used for agricultural purposes.

The future installation will be projected to “ensure, not only the power supply of the radio station existing there, but also the complete energy support of Vatican City State,” he wrote.

The Pope appointed two special commissioners to spearhead the project: the president of the commission governing Vatican City State, Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, and the president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, Archbishop Giordano Piccinotti. APSA directly administers Vatican real estate and properties.


Pope launches project for Vatican to run solely on solar power (By Carol Glatz, OSV News)