Mauro Villarini, an engineer who works for Vatican State's technical services, spoke to L'Osservatore Romano about the progress of the project, which aims to make the Vatican into Europe's most energy-efficient state.
The solar panels are expected to be functioning by the end of the year.
Paul VI was chosen because the structure of the building lends itself to panels and the construction will minimally change its look.
Also, the hall "was chosen because it is one of the most modern buildings, hence the most compatible with technologies of this sort. Moreover, there was a need to restore the roof," Villarini said.
Of the close to 5,000 square meters (53,810 square feet) of the roof's surface, around 2,000 square meters (21,527 square feet) will be covered by the panels, while the rest will be used as a screen to increase the amount of captured energy.
This project, which has been realized in collaboration with Rome's La Sapienza University, has been encouraged by Benedict XVI's many messages on the importance of the environment.
"Especially important for us were the Pope's words pronounced on Jan. 1, 2007, on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, in which he called for an ecological awareness, which would be translated into concrete programs and initiatives," explained Villarini.
"The production of these panels will constitute 60%-70% of the necessary energy in those buildings, thus lessening energy expenses. The work will begin in October and the solar plant might be able to begin to function this year."
In addition to this initiative, there is another project to use solar energy for heating and cooling water.
And there are other projects involving alternative energy, planned for the near future and presently being developed, explained Villarini.
"The objective of our projects is, in sum, to create an energy process from which, with the production of clean energy and its intelligent management, it is possible to supply in the first place these properties and, in the future, also the means of transport, making mobility sustainable from the environmental point of view," he said.
"The challenge is for Vatican City State to be the first in Europe to comply with European objectives, which foresee for 2020, obtaining at least 20% of consumed energy from renewable sources."
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