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Friday Focus: Brazil leads solar sporting pack

  •   Pituacu Stadium, Brazil
    Pituacu Stadium, Brazil: one of the World Cup stadiums using PV. Source: Gehrlicher Solar.
  •   The San Francisco 49ers new home in Santa Clara
    SunPower was chosen to provide modules for the 49ers new home.
  •   Singapore Sports Hub
    The Singapore Sports Hub. Source: Phoenix Solar.


Lucy Woods

Brazil has kicked off the first carbon neutral goal for the world’s largest sporting event – the FIFA world cup.

Hoping to motivate organisers, the government has asked clean energy producers such as solar and wind energy plants, to donate carbon free certificates to the World Cup to offset carbon emissions.

“Big sporting events are increasingly winning green medals for their environmental performance. In doing so they can inspire the wider society towards climate action in support of a better world,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The centrepiece of the World Cup, and indeed any major sporting event is the venue itself. More and more we are seeing top sporting venues boost their green credentials with the addition of solar.

Here’s our pick of the best:

The green World Cup

The Estádio de Pituaçu FIFA stadium in Salvador was the first football stadium in Latin America to install solar panels.

Brazil next year will adhere to a strict Sustainability Strategy, aimed at providing the greenest World Cup ever.

At least seven of the 12 stadiums to be used for the football World Cup in Brazil, beginning 12 June 2014, will be fitted with solar arrays for on-site generation, including Gehrlicher Solar's installation on Pituacu Stadium

Originally all 12 stadiums had been expected to be fitted to some degree with PV arrays and other green energy measures, but ultimately only seven will have them fitted in time for the tournament. Brazil aims to stage the most sustainable World Cup to date, with the benefits and potential of solar power showcased to a global audience of millions, along with other environmentally-friendly features such as facilitating the smart collection of rainwater, built into the design of the Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro.

An inauguration event was held for the 14MW rooftop solar array at Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto, popularly known as the Mineirão, in Belo Horizonte, as reported by PV Tech in May last year.

The stadiums’ solar arrays will all have different energy roles to play, with the photovoltaic panels on the Mineirão feeding directly back into the grid, while the 2.5MWp rooftop plant at the Mané Garrincha is expected to be used to power half of the stadium’s energy requirements. The Arena Pernambuco in Recife will utilise solar power for facilities including kitchens, changing rooms and toilets at the stadium, with electricity going into the grid when the stadium is not in use.

Funding for each stadium’s solar capability comes from a variety of sources; Brazilian energy company Odebrecht Energia has invested around US$13 million into the Arena Pernambuco, while the Mineirão’s PV arrays were funded by around US$16 million from German bank KfW and Brazilian utility firm CEMIG. FIFA’s own invested figure of US$20 million would barely have funded one and a half of the stadium PV installations, but at least in this instance some private investors appear to be keen to pick up the cost.

Rio’s Maracana, historically one of the most famous and feted football grounds in the world, will be attempting to attain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. An array of 1,500 rooftop solar panels is expected to be complemented by the aforementioned system of collecting and reusing rainwater.

A 1MW rooftop PV plant has been installed on the roof of Itaipava Arena Pernambuco, another of the stadiums that will be used in the 2014 World Cup football tournament as Brazil puts sustainability at the heart of the event.

The 49ers

Football doesn’t have the monopoly on solar stadiums however. The San Francisco 49ers are doing their bit for the NFL.

They announced a partnership with NRG Energy to install a 400kW system at their home in Santa Clara. The system will generate enough electricity all year to offset what it consumes during a season’s worth of home fixtures.

SunPower was selected to provide the panels.

Washington Redskins

Sticking with the NFL, the Washington Redskins also teamed up with NRG Energy, this time for a 2MW install at FedEx Field.

As well as generating 20% of the power required on game days, the stadium includes some extra solar flourishes including a translucent solar entrance and a 30 foot sculpture made using thin-film technology.

The Yankees

While the array is actually installed on a neighbouring building (GAL Manufacturing), its proximity to one of the biggest names in US sport the New York Yankees, brought a extra exposure for the industry during its formative years.

SolarCity and MC Solar Development completed the installation of a 237kW rooftop solar system next to the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York back in 2012.

PV Tech has a full run down of some of the biggest US sporting solar installs here.

Singapore Sports Hub

The Singapore Sports Hub, a “state of the art” sports and leisure complex currently under construction, will feature a 707kWp rooftop PV installation. Modules will be supplied by REC Group, while construction of the plant will be carried out by Phoenix Solar. The complex includes a 55,000-capacity national stadium for Singapore, complete with retractable dome roof. The stadium will be carbon-neutral as the PV installation is designed to offset energy required by its cooling system. Phoenix Solar will own and operate the self-consumption plant. 


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