In an effort to be more environmental, the Vatican has decided that it will begin to use solar energy in some of its buildings as of next year.
Vatican engineer Pier Carlo Cuscianna came up with the idea of replacing the cement panels that make up the roof of the Paul VI auditorium with photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Cuscianna said the cement panels had to be replaced due to weathering, so he thought it was the right time to make the move to solar.
The cells will produce enough electricity to illuminate, heat or cool the 6,300-seat hall, that is used for the pontiff's general audiences in winter and in bad weather, and for concerts.
"Since the auditorium isn't used every day, the (excess) energy will feed into the network, providing (the Vatican) with power, so other Vatican offices can use the energy," Cuscianna told The Associated Press.
A feasibility study, published in L'Osservatore Romano, found that the conversion made economic sense and quoted from Pope Benedict's speeches calling on Christians not to squander resources and to protect and care for the environment.
The new roof panels will have the same form and almost the same color as the cement panels they are replacing. The Vatican is considering the installation solar panels on other buildings, although landmarks, such as St. Peter's Basilica, would not be touched, he said.