The World’s Top Solar Sports Venues

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes the top spot for utilizing more solar energy than any other sports venue in the world.

Solarplaza, a renewable energy consulting firm, announced the rankings of 50 solar sports venues today, saying, “An ever-growing number of sports venues have taken on the use of solar energy in an attempt to improve the sustainable profile of their power generation.”

According to the company’s report, the top 10 solar stadiums and sports venues around the world are:

  1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway (US): 39,312 panels
  2. TT circuit Assen (the Netherlands): 21,000
  3. Lincoln Financial Field (US): 11,000
  4. Pocono Raceway (US): 39,960
  5. Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha (Brazil): 9,600
  6. Rio Tinto Stadium (US): 6,500
  7. FedEx Field (US): 8,000
  8. Mineirao (Brazil): 6,000
  9. Antalya Arena (Turkey): 5,600
  10. Stade de Suisse (Switzerland): 8,000

The report states that before 2008, only 3 venues made it to the list, whereas the period between 2010 and 2015 witnessed the commissioning of nearly 80% of all venues in the ranking. Although 2016 and 2017 have been somewhat slower than expected, the study suggests the attractiveness for venues to utilize solar energy as a way to increase sustainability and provide an economic cushion for expenses will drive further growth in this sector.

In Europe, the majority of the areas’ top solar venues are soccer stadiums. The venue that snagged first place for Europe, however, is a car racing arena. The speedway harvests the sun through its 21,000 installed solar panels that account for a peak capacity of whooping 5,600 kWp. The second largest venue with a considerably lower solar capacity is the BSC Young Boys’ stadium in Bern, Switzerland. This solar system’s capacity amounted to 1,350 kWp and consisted off 8,000 panels.

Arsenal, the English football club, has also gone the route of renewable energy, but without using solar power. The group enetered into a power purchase agreement with Octopus Energy and is now 100% sustainable in their energy consumption. By completely sourcing its energy from renewable sources, the team will manage to save 2.32 million kg of carbon dioxide per year.

In North America, the NFL, MLS, MLB and NBA all have stadiums or arenas represented in the ranking. The most solar-powered venue is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the Indy 500. The venue is powered by nearly 40,000 solar panels amounting to a capacity of 9,000 kWp

As the report states:

The total solar venue capacity has come a long way since the first reported case of a professional sports facility installing solar panels on its roof. This pioneering achievement took place in 2007 when the Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies) installed a solar system with a capacity of 9.9 kW. Since then professional solar sports installations have grown immensely. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association in United States of America, the total cumulative solar power capacity in professional sports facilities reached 25.4 MWp in 2015 (a growth of 13% by year).

There is a fine line between reducing waste and reaching zero waste, however. Sporting venues interested in reducing GHG emissions, energy use, and trips to the landfill may actually be shortchanging themselves by focusing too closely on the concept of reaching “zero waste,” according to researchers at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). Rather, two specific aspects of waste reduction seem to far outweigh the rest in terms of reducing emissions or energy use: eliminating edible food waste, and recycling.

Researchers conducted a study to characterize the waste produced at sporting events prior to game day and unsold food disposed of on game day, quantify the greenhouse gases produced, and identify waste management and recycling strategies. Eleven waste management strategies were evaluated using the Waste Reduction Model (WARM) and researchers found that achieving zero waste – commonly understood as diverting 90% of waste from landfills by reusing, recycling, composting, etc. – may not be the thing that is most effective in terms of reducing GHG emissions or energy use. In fact, the two most effective approaches, according to the study, were found to be eliminating edible food waste and recycling.

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