Pope 'wants solar-power popemobile'

Pope Benedict XVI would happily use a solar-powered "popemobile" but one has not been offered to him, the Vatican has said.

Benedict would rather use an electric vehicle than the petrol-powered one he currently travels in, according to Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who runs the Vatican City state.

Acar insurance policy for this would certainly make for interesting reading.

The cardinal made the comments while launching a book promoting the Catholic Church centre's efforts to help the environment, which is entitled The Energy Of The Sun In The Vatican.

The publication describes how solar panels were installed on the roof of the Vatican's main auditorium in 2008, as well as how a solar cooling unit was put in its main cafeteria in 2009. Both features have won awards.

Germany-based firm SolarWorld, which provided the photovoltaic cells for the auditorium, said it has discussed the idea of giving the Pope a solar-powered electric car.

SolarWorld marketing chief Milan Nitzschke revealed the main hurdle is getting Vatican security clearance, since some still wrongly believe electric cars cannot accelerate as quickly as petrol cars.

"It's really no problem," he said, noting that electric cars can go from 0-100 kph in three seconds.

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