Solar Bowl: The NFL Adds A Bit More Green To The Gridiron

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Originally posted in HuffPostGreen.

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. The Baltimore Ravens will battle the San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans’ Superdome for the The Vince Lombardi Trophy, but most of the fans don’t know that there’s another battle going on just beyond the gridiron: The Solar Bowl.

The game is on, and the competition among stadiums is to see which one can score the most power from clean energy. Across the country, stadium owners have pulled out a new play from their playbook and are turning to solar energy to power their stadiums.  If you don’t believe that NFL facilities can tap into clean energy, then check out the current “division champions.”

Metlife Stadium, home to the NY Jets and NY Giants, is ringed with 1,350 solar panels. These panels generate 25 times the electricity needed to power the color changing LED lights that illuminate the stadium at night.

Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots, is also home to Patriot Place Solar Canopy Project. The stadium's 3,000 panels provide over half of the facility’s electricity needs.

The Redskins’ FedEx Field in Maryland boasts its own 8,000 panels adorning the parking canopies. There’s even a 30-foot 'Solar Man' statue lined with panels that provide electricity to the stadium.

The Seattle Seahawks installed a 2.5-acre solar array at CenturyLink Field and the Philadelphia Eagles are determined to make Lincoln Financial Field the “greenest facility” in the NFL. 11,000 solar panels will be installed by the end of the month, which, in combination with 14 microturbines, will generate 3 MW of power--making it the largest installation of any stadium in the NFL.

NRG, the solar company behind most of these projects, is working with the San Francisco 49ers to help make their new stadium in Santa Clara, California energy sustainable. NRG has also partnered with a school in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans to showcase solar energy at this year’s Super Bowl. The city aims to host “the greenest game in Super Bowl history.”

The NFL has been making the Super Bowl more “green” each year for the past 18 years. Last year, the Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s longest serving retailer of green power, was selected to supply 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electricity used at the major NFL venues. These included Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center, and all four of the major NFL hotels.

These are the NFL stadiums that are leading in the Solar Bowl. They are running with solar and are capturing the vast, untapped energy potential in the United States. As have their state legislators, which have passed legislation that encourages this type of outstanding renewable performance on the field and off.  We expect that other great NFL stadiums, and the states that host them, will want to step up their game to make their energy markets a more positive place for renewables like solar.

So as you watch the Superbowl this Sunday, take a moment to think about the individual stadiums competing in the Solar Bowl.  Their commitment to tap into our largest source of energy in the US – solar energy - is a clear example of how individual leaders are moving America forward.  To quote Vince Lombardi “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

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Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO

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