More than 46 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity are operating at 37 professional sports facilities nationwide, according to new research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). In the last five years, professional teams and facilities have installed nearly 34 MW of capacity across 16 solar installations, representing almost 75 percent of all the solar capacity currently in operation at sports arenas.
Every leading sports league in the United States, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and IndyCar boast solar assets. A third of the NFL stadiums in the U.S. have a solar system, with the MLB and NBA not far behind with 30 percent each. To put the proliferation of solar across professional sports in context, last year nearly 42 million Americans attended an event at a stadium, arena, or raceway with a solar system.
“This data is further proof that solar energy is a meaningful contributor to America’s energy portfolio,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Ballparks and stadiums nationwide are investing in solar to save money on costly electricity bills and demonstrating that clean energy is a smart business choice for the future. Solar is becoming so commonplace on sports stadiums and arenas that all of the 2018 champions thus far have been teams with solar facilities – the Philadelphia Eagles, Golden State Warriors, and the Washington Capitals right here in D.C.”
“The adoption and investment in solar energy systems by the sports and entertainment industry has been a critical element in the sports greening movement,” said Justin Zeulner, Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance. “Leagues, teams, venues, collegiate campuses, athletes, arenas, and stadiums are all vital in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and these clean-energy investments support building healthier, more sustainable communities where we live and play. We look forward to collaborating further with SEIA to advance further projects, as well as fan, athlete, and community engagement platforms.”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500, houses the largest onsite solar system in professional sports at 9,600 kilowatts (kW), and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings purchase some of the team’s electricity from a 11,000 kW system outside of Sacramento. While most systems continue to be located onsite at stadiums and practice facilities, more teams are looking to expand their solar purchasing through partnerships with developers and utilities at off-site facilities and community solar farms.
Professional sports facilities across the country are using solar for significant portions of their energy use. The Sonoma Raceway in California is home to a 353 kW solar system that provides 41 percent of the racetrack’s energy usage. Mercedez-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, generates enough electricity to power all of the Falcons’ home games each season.