Guest blog by Jeremy Gottlieb of Mosaic
Go to pretty much any National Football League (NFL) game and you will feel the buzz of electricity in the air as fans get excited to support their own team and fantasy players, while venting their displeasure at the visitors. But these days, there’s a bit more to the electric atmosphere that comes with uniting tens of thousands of passionate fans into roughly two, unequal factions, watching incredible athletic plays and consuming mind-boggling quantities of grilled food and alcohol. This new electric atmosphere comes from the increasing use of renewable energy (specifically solar) at NFL stadiums around the league.
Have you ever thought about how much electricity is used during a professional sporting event like an NFL game? You’ve got high-powered lights to illuminate the field at night, lights to illuminate the inner arteries of the stadium so people can safely move about. Count in the power required to cook all of those hamburgers, French fries, chicken fingers, popcorn, hot dogs, corndogs, and pretzels. We also can’t forget that no one like drinking warm beer, soda, or water so keeping our favorite beverages chilled is also another massive energy consumer. Add in military-grade sound systems, gigantic high-definition TVs (we’re especially looking at you Dallas), escalators, as well as numerous other functions and the electricity usage on game day can be a minimum 10 megawatts and frequently is as high 15 megawatts.
Mind-blowing stat of the day: the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium on game day uses more electricity than the entire African country of Liberia.
Until recently, virtually none of the electricity used at games came from clean sources, but in fairness, until recently there wasn’t a demand for Wi-Fi at games, in-stadium dance clubs, or obscenely huge high-definition TVs. In 2014, there will be five stadiums in the NFL that are at least partially powered by solar energy. Those five gems include Metlife Stadium (home of the New York Jets and New York Giants), Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles), FedEx Field (home of the Washington Redskins), Patriot Place (complex around the New England Patriot’s Gillette Stadium), and the crown jewel, Levi’s Stadium (home to-be of the San Francisco 49ers.)
While any steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprint is a great move, the new 49ers home will be the gold standard when it comes energy production and usage at stadiums. Levi’s Stadium will be net zero, meaning that its all-year power generation will offset the energy consumption of game days. The new field is currently in the process of construction next to the organization’s headquarters in Santa Clara, CA and actually just installed the 49th and final giant solar frame (which contain a total of 544 solar panels with an efficiency of 20%). Other unique and advanced aspects of the complex include several solar array-covered bridges and a solar canopy so when fully operational, the stadium will be harvesting the power of the Sun from approximately 20,000 sq. feet of solar panels.
We’ve mentioned that location matters less for solar energy production than good policy and leadership. This is definitely true, but places can be optimized for solar and football fields represent great optimization opportunities. With the correct planning in mind, the large quantities of space that stadiums consume can be optimized to harvest the Sun’s energy all year long. Though there may only be at eight regular season NFL games played at the grounds, there are also preseason games, concerts, and other athletic contests that require huge amounts of electricity too. When energy isn’t being used directly for the games, it can be sold back to the grid to supply others with clean power.
The San Francisco 49ers are banking on the power of the Sun and so can you. Mosaic is the online platform connecting investors with high quality solar projects and we invite everyone to participate in the clean energy economy.