VATICAN CITY, 2008

Solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall

Dal Pozzolo

© Stefano dal Pozzolo / Contrasto

 

No gesture is ever too small to make a difference, including in the energy transition. Vatican City, the smallest state in the world, seems to have taken this to heart. By installing more than 2,400 photovoltaic panels, the Holy See has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by about 200 tonnes per year (the equivalent of 70 tonnes of petroleum). The solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall, which are hidden by Saint Peter's Basilica, produce renewable energy with zero impact on the landscape.
Photovoltaic systems fulfil a wide range of promises in different ways. Technological developments mean that, at truly competitive prices, they can produce cleaner and cleaner energy from the sun, which is a free energy source. At the end of their lifecycle of between 20 and 30 years, solar panels can be recycled almost entirely (96%). The solar panel industry has undergone exponential growth in recent years. In addition to offering clear benefits in terms of environmental sustainability, the industry creates more than twice as many jobs per unit of electricity as coal and gas do.
It has recently been observed that air pollution alone, especially in urban areas, can significantly reduce the efficiency of solar panels by up to 12%. This is something we need to think about. If we are to move toward sustainability, we have to be more ambitious, changing not only the way we produce energy but the way we relate to the Earth that is our home.

Paolo Pinto