Renewables

Pope Francis to make Vatican energy independent with agrivoltaics

Pope Francis to make Vatican energy independent with agrivoltaics

Photo: Yakov Fedorov / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode.en

Published

June 28, 2024

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Published:

June 28, 2024

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Comments:

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The Vatican intends to achieve energy independence with solar power and is turning to a combination of agriculture and photovoltaics, according to Pope Francis. The world’s smallest state launched the endeavor at a property outside Rome.

The Holy See embraced agrivoltaics. The concept, also known as agrisolar, implies farming and solar power production at the same location. Pope Francis, who has been promoting decarbonization efforts, issued an encyclical letter ordering the development of a photovoltaic project on land outside the Vatican.

​​Santa Maria di Galeria is an area northeast of Rome where the world’s smallest state has a property spanning 424 hectares. Notably, the Vatican has a radio transmission facility at the site. The agrivoltaic system there needs to ensure complete self-sufficiency, Pope Francis stressed.

The pope borrowed the title of his latest encyclical letter from Saint Francis of Assisi

“We need to make a transition towards a sustainable development model that reduces greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, setting the objective of climate neutrality. Humanity has the technological means necessary to face this environmental transformation and its pernicious ethical, social, economic and political consequences, and solar energy plays a fundamental role” on the path, the head of the Catholic Church stated.

The pope has entitled the encyclical letter Fratello Sole  – Brother Sun. He borrowed the phrase from Saint Francis of Assisi, whose name he took.

Interestingly, Italy banned solar power plants on fertile soil earlier this month.

Pope Francis Vatican energy independent agrivoltaics
Photo: BayWa r.e.

The Holy See installed a rooftop solar power plant in 2008 on the Paul VI Audience Hall, in cooperation with BayWa r.e. and SolarWorld. The facility has a nominal annual output of 300 MWh.

In 2022, the Vatican signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. Last year it launched a partnership with Volkswagen for the electrification of its car fleet including charging stations.

The Church of England said a year ago it would sell its investments in fossil fuel companies. They failed to do enough to tackle climate change, it added.

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Pope Francis to make Vatican energy independent with agrivoltaics

Pope Francis to make Vatican energy independent with agrivoltaics

28 June 2024 - The Vatican intends to achieve energy independence with solar power. Moreover, it is turning to a combination of agriculture and photovoltaics, according to Pope Francis.