Solar panels aren’t just showing up on homes and businesses. PV panels are also providing energy to some of the largest buildings in major cities — sports stadiums. If that doesn’t serve as a testament to the potential of solar, nothing will! Between the field lights and the popcorn machines, stadiums and arenas need a lot of power. Solar panel installation is proving to be the most forward-thinking solution and its popularity is thriving across the sports community.
How serious is the sports industry about going solar? There are dozens of U.S. stadiums that collectively have thousands of panels installed. In fact, the first three major sports championships of 2018 were won by teams that play in a solar-powered facility. Sports and solar are proving they go together like LeBron James and all-star status. Some venues are entirely powered using green energy, and other arenas supplement traditional electricity with a solar power system. No matter how you cut it, the solar trend is hitting the big leagues and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Let’s take a look at how solar is taking over in sports and what that means for the future of the solar energy.
NFL Teams Are Taking Charge in Solar
Super Bowl L was hosted in solar-operated Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area, an indication of how much trust the league has in solar energy. But the home to the San Francisco 49ers isn’t the only football facility to be powered by solar. In fact, the NFL leads American sports leagues in percentage of stadiums that have gone solar. An impressive 32% of the league’s stadiums are operating on solar power as of 2018. At some stadiums, the amount of solar power created in a single day would be enough to power two homes for an entire year.
In addition to the Levi’s Stadium, FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.; Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; and CenturyLink Field in Seattle lead the field in using solar power.
MetLife Stadium, which is home to the New York Giants and Jets, is also turning green. In fact, Energy Digital named MetLife Stadium one of the 10 most energy-efficient stadiums. The new stadium, opened in 2010, uses 30% less energy than its predecessor, Giants Stadium despite being twice as big.
NFL teams often combine their solar efforts with recycling and other green initiatives to reduce their negative impact on the local environment even more. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles also encourage fans to embrace sustainability with “Go Green” programs that promote responsible habits such as reducing water use and buying recycled products inside and outside the stadium.
Baseball and Basketball Venues are Gaining Steam
Not to be outdone by their football counterparts, baseball and basketball stadiums are turning to solar panels to keep their lights on with less impact on the environment and overall costs. Most NBA stadiums operating on solar power are in the west, with three California stadiums using solar panels as a part of their energy plans. The Phoenix Suns also play in a solar-operated facility. Solar is beginning to move east in the NBA, with the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat also boasting green energy at their arenas.
The MLB is also putting some skin in the solar game. From Cleveland to San Diego, facilities that host baseball are beginning to install PV panels. At AT&T Park in San Francisco, the energy generated from solar power is enough to sustain the team’s electronic scoreboard for an entire year. The largest solar system in the MLB is at Petco Park in San Diego, where the team recently invested in more than 300,000 watts of solar power across 716 modules.
Sports and Solar Panel Installation in Numbers
Until a few years ago, the title of Biggest Solar-Powered Venue went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has a solar capacity of 9,600 kW. For reference, a home with a monthly electric bill of $100 needs a 5.5 kW system, so the home of the Indy 500 has enough power to operate a neighborhood.
Today, the sports facility with the most solar power is the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, which has a mind-boggling 11,000 kW system. The Sacramento arena has a partnership with a local solar farm in addition to its own panels, so it reaps the benefits of solar without relying solely on an on-site system.
The stats about sports venues and solar are vast and impressive. Here are a few quick figures that reveal the inspiring potential of solar, and how much it’s already being leveraged by major sports facilities in the U.S.
- Capital One Arena, formerly called the Verizon Center, began operating on 25% solar power in 2017. The giant stadium near Washington D.C. is home to the Washington Wizards of the NBA and Washington Capitals of the NHL.
- The Golden 1 Center has LEED Platinum status for energy efficiency and is the first indoor arena in the country to earn the label. The stadium powers all of its daytime activities using its on-site solar panels and leverages the solar from its partner solar farm to offset evening electricity usage.
- CenturyLink Field in Seattle cut its annual utility costs by 21% by adding solar power to its lineup. The stadium has 1,350 on-site solar panels.
- FedEx Field, home to the Washington Redskins, is able to power 100% of its electricity using solar on non-game days. On game days, 20% of the stadium’s energy comes from its PV panels.
- Busch Stadium, which hosts the St. Louis Cardinals, has had a program called “4 a Greener Game” since 2008. The stadium also has 106 solar panels, which it uses to power its retail and concession spaces.
- The Seattle Mariners generate 40,000 kWh of solar power every year, which allows the stadium, Safeco Field, to offset 28 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.
- As of June 2018, United States sports teams had collectively installed 46 MW worth of solar power across 37 different facilities.
What Sports Arenas in Solar Mean for the Solar Industry
So, what does all this mean for the solar industry? Solar energy is trending in residential and business energy, and the advent of PV panels to sports arenas only increases their popularity. A reduction in energy used by stadiums and arenas place less of a burden on local grids, which could make a significant a regional impact. Solar at sports facilities also opens the door for solar to be used at other large facilities.
Madison College in Wisconsin recently installed 5,000 solar panels across the school in the hopes of saving the college up to $250,000 per year. Where else can solar panels chip in to offset expensive and burdensome energy usage? If solar panels can power an entire stadium they could offset energy use and CO2 emissions in hospitals, government buildings, and other large institutions. The potential of solar in stadiums also helps sustain the industry and justify new manufacturing and solar farms, off of which grows the solar industry at large.
Sports teams are scoring big with solar energy all across the country. In fact, solar is helping stadiums become more energy independent across the world. Beyond the United States, soccer stadiums in other countries are also turning to PV panels to help power their facilities. The use of solar in sports helps communities reduce the burden on their power grid, keeps costs lower for maintaining venues that are important to the region, and is ultimately good for the environment. Combined with the introduction of legislation in places like California that will require all new build homes to have solar in the future, the popularity of solar in sports can make a real difference to the next generation of green power.
Are you interested in lighting your backyard ice hockey rink or tee-ball field with solar power? If a major stadium can offset their electricity costs with the help of solar energy, you can too. At Semper Solaris, we’re here to help you become more energy independent without spending a small fortune. Contact the Semper Solaris team today to talk to our experts about how solar can change the way you do electricity and to get a no-pressure estimate for your new solar system.