The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, US motor racing's spiritual home, has been fitted with what is claimed to be the largest solar power plant at any sporting facility in the world.
The 9MW plant, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm, was inaugurated at a ceremony on Monday. It is located near the backstretch of the oval-shaped racetrack. Under the terms of a power purchase agreement (PPA), electricity will be sold to utility Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL), which will also own the Solar Renewable Energy Credits produced.
The project was co-developed by two companies, Sunwize Technologies and Blue Renewable Energy. California-based Sunwize designed, engineered and installed the project, while Blue Renewable Energy negotiated the land lease agreement between the involved parties. Engineering and construction firm Swinerton Builders and clean energy finance firm Clenera were also involved.
The system features 39,312 48” x 72” 230w solar panels and will cover 16.8 hectares of previously unused land. It will have an estimated monthly output of 1100kWh, according to IMS.
J Douglas Boles, president of the speedway pointed out that the innovations in energy generation in some ways echoed the development and innovation that went into the track’s own origins.
“In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in part to help advance the automotive industry, which at that time was the new technology of the day. Today, IMS is honored to be part of a partnership with IPL, SunWize and Blue Renewable Energy where innovation and technology are coming together to bring diversification of generation resources to this community. The unused land at the IMS property just east of the race track has been transformed into a solar energy production facility that will provide an alternative source of energy to IPL customers,” said Boles.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcement follows in the wake of high profile solar being installed at some of the football stadiums used for the FIFA World Cup, which is currently taking place. This includes the Estadio do Maracana, Brazil’s major football ‘cathedral’, to be used at the tournament’s final match which takes place on 13 July.
Motor racing itself is slowly coming to terms with the growing public popularity of clean energy, with an all-electric racing class, Formula E, also holding its official launch on Monday in London, England, for a race series that begins in earnest in September.