Fast German Company Helps Vatican Go All Solar

Because of Germanyâ''s hefty solar incentives, a number of its startup companies have been carving big niches in the global market, first and foremost Q Cells, which now ranks first in the world in terms of megawatt capacity produced and delivered. Another entrant much in the news today is Solarworld AG, based in Bonn, which is not showing up on top-ten lists but surely soon will do so.

Solarworld has invested $500 million in a production facility in Hilsboro, Oregon, in the heart of that stateâ''s â''silicon forest,â'' where it is making â''rooftop-readyâ'' cells from polysilicon. That plantâ''s purposes and production procedures are nicely described in yesterdayâ''s New York Times by green blogger and journalist Kate Galbraith. Meanwhile, Solarworld is building a module production facility in South Korea to serve the East Asian market.

Solarworld intends now to build Europeâ''s largest solar electricity generating plant in Santa Maria di Galeria outside Rome, to power the Vaticanâ''s radio transmitters. With a planned capacity of 100 MW, coming from some combination of PV panels and concentrating devices, it will generate enough electricity to serve much more than the needs of just the Vatican and local Santa Maria residents.

Last year Solarworld donated a 222 KW rooftop array to the Catholic Church, to provide electricity to the Paolo VI audience hall at the Vatican. Company executives are talking about designing a green â''popemobileâ'' for Benedict XVI, who is a booster of green energy.

A corporate foundation, Solar2World, has given PV arrays to an AIDS orphanage, a hospital, and several training centers in Africa.

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