100MW solar plant to make Vatican a net energy exporter

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World’s biggest solar farm is expected to cost the world’s smallest nation $660 million and take advantage of Italy’s generous feed-in tariff.

FUENTE – CleanTech – 20/04/09

The Vatican announced plans for a 100-megawatt solar farm that would enable the world’s smallest country to become a net energy exporter by 2014.

The solar array would allow the Holy See to exceed the European Union’s renewable energy targets of 20 percent of demand by 2020. The project carries an estimated price tag of $450 million to $660 million.

The 740-acre project is expected to produce six times the 108-acre country’s energy demand. The project is planned for the church-owned Santa Maria di Galeria site just north of Rome.

The excess power is expected to be shipped to Italy so the Vatican can benefit from Italy’s generous solar subsidies. Italy recently established a 20-year feed-in tariff of €0.44 to €0.49 per kilowatt hour (see ET Solar to sell modules to Italy).

The project would be the second solar array for the Vatican. In November, the Catholic Church activated its first alternative energy system, a €1.2 million ($1.6 million) solar array to power lighting, heat and air conditioning for Nervi Hall, where weekly mass is held (see Holy See sees future in solar). That system produces 300 kilowat-hours of energy per year.

The 2,400-panel system was donated by German companies SolarWorld and SMA Solar Technology.The Vatican is working with Solarworld for the new project but is expected to take bids from other suppliers.

At that time, the Vatican said it was exploring whether to also build the 100 MW solar farm on 740 acres at the Santa Maria di Galeria site just north of Rome.

The Vatican is exploring other renewable energy projects. The church has signed a €300,000 deal with Kloben Solar Evolution of Verona, Italy, for a solar thermal system to heat and cool the staff cafeteria. The Vatican is conducting a feasibility study on using waste material to produce methane and gas.

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