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Solar energy in the NFL in 2017: a solar powered Super Bowl LI

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There was a time when we asked, “Could the NFL Be Leading the Way in Renewable Energy?” We firmly believe that the more people are exposed to solar and other renewable energies in their daily lives, the more quickly these technologies can become part of the mainstream. Now, six years later, we’re happy to report that there is a definite proliferation of solar power use not only in the NFL, but in Major League Baseball and the NBA as well. More and more teams are recognizing the tremendous potential these systems have to save money, generate positive publicity, and reduce negative environmental impacts.

The Super Bowl runs on solar once again

Last year, Super Bowl L ran on solar energy thanks to Levi Stadium’s impressive 375 kW solar array. This year will feature more of the same in Houston – the home turf for the Houston Texans is sponsored by NRG, an energy company well known for its solar installations across the U.S. NRG Stadium, where Super Bowl LI will take place, features 180 kW of solar energy thanks to the solar canopy structures and mounted arrays situated around the building.

The Texans are now one of many teams in the U.S. to have a home stadium that’s at least partially powered by solar energy. Check out the top stadiums for solar:

  • Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia Eagles: 3,000 kW
  • FedEx Field – Washington Redskins: 2,000 kW
  • Gillette Stadium – New England Patriots: 1,000 kW
  • CenturyLink Field – Seattle Seahawks: 800 kW
  • Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers: 375 kW 

Atlanta vs. New England: a solar comparison

This year’s matchup will feature the two most likely MVP candidates and two of the best overall teams in the NFL from the 2016-17 season: Matt Ryan’s league-best Falcon’s offense and Tom Brady’s frequent contending Patriots. The matchup is set to offer a great contest in terms of scoring and athletic performance. However, these two franchises are hardly comparable in terms of solar activity. Atlanta’s current stadium doesn’t run on renewable energy, although there is speculation that the brand new Falcons stadium that they will be moving into at the start of next season may run partially on solar. Regardless, the Falcons don’t currently run on solar, whereas the New England Patriots are known to be the third most eco-friendly NFL team.

NFL, New England Patriots go solar with pride

The New England Patriots installed their first solar panels at Patriot Place – the retail destination adjacent to Gillette Stadium – in 2009. New solar canopies are producing up to 60% of energy needs for the home field of the AFC champs in 2017. In addition to generating over 1.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, these solar canopies provide shoppers with shade and weather protection. In total, Patriot Place’s installed solar capacity is over 1.5 megawatts and reduces carbon emissions by more than 800 metric tons. 

Other solar activity in professional sports

The boys of summer are taking advantage of solar’s benefits, too. The Arizona Diamondbacks installed a solar pavilion at Chase Field that generates 75 kilowatts of power and provides 17,280 square feet of shade for fans standing outside the stadium. Even though Seattle is one of the least-sunny cities in North America, the Mariners are also putting solar power to work for them. A new 33-kilowatt solar array will generate 40,000 kWh of electricity each year, offsetting 28 metric tons of CO2 emissions. That’s the equivalent of planting more than 700 trees every year. The St. Louis Cardinals are also getting in on the action. In April 2011, 106 new solar panels were installed at Busch Stadium. To date, these panels have generated nearly 40,000 kWh of power, and the season’s not over yet. Collectively, these projects will save major league sports millions of dollars in energy costs and cut carbon emissions by thousands of metric tons. Most importantly, though, these projects have the power to introduce solar energy to millions of fans visiting these stadiums or watching games on TV. As more people see how solar power is benefiting their teams, more homeowners and business owners will follower their lead.

Fans interested in solar panels for their home or business can get a free estimate for the cost and long term savings of a solar installation with this Solar Calculator.

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