Sunpower will supply panels for the PV system at the new US$1.2 billion San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, a source close to the deal confirmed this week.
NRG Energy will install the 400kW arrays and will provide enough power over the course of a year to offset the power consumed at the stadium during 49ers home games. Although the system is relatively small, the Sunpower deal also comes at a time when the San Jose-based company is struggling to return a profit and there are plans to expand capacity.
Construction began on the 68,500-seat football stadium last year and is due for completion in 2014. NRG Energy now has eight deals with 10 of the top NFL teams, but the Santa Clara project is the first to have been designed into the construction of a new stadium rather than retrofitted.
NRG will install three solar array-covered bridges, solar panels over the 49ers training centre and a solar canopy over the green roof terrace, with views looking down into Silicon Valley and across the San Francisco Bay Area.
“NRG is much more than a founding partner, they are providing the energy leadership, infrastructure and expertise to help us achieve the vision of making the new Santa Clara Stadium an economically and environmentally sustainable showcase for innovation,” said Jed York, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco 49ers.
Manny Rodriguez, head of sponsorships, events and charitable giving, would not confirm the deal with Sunpower, but he did stress the emblematic importance of selecting an American company during a time of deep distress in the US solar manufacturing industry.
“Our preference has been American sourcing, our preference has been local sourcing. That being said, there are certain designs that require different types of solar panels and not all American manufacturers can create specific designs.”
Sunpower has already provided panels at other solar NFL projects, such as the Gillette stadium, home to the New England Patriots, and the Redskins' FedEx field in Maryland.
NRG Energy is also soon to announce three acquisitions in the 20MW range within a couple of weeks and is in negotiations with a Las Vegas hotel for a “substantial multi-megawatt” installation to be announced within the year, according to Tom Doyle, president and chief executive officer at NRG Solar.