Why Stadium Solar Is The Way Forward

Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Chelsea back in September was branded as Game Zero. This had the aim of being the world’s first net-zero carbon football game at an elite level. But it did little to show why stadium solar is the way forward.

For the match, the clubs vowed to minimise emissions, increase recycling, and promote greener methods of travel.

Other initiatives included, offering more vegetarian and vegan food options, and offset any leftover emissions by planting trees.

It was a small step, but one that organisers and campaigners hope will lead to other things.

But what did it do to promote why stadium solar is the way forward?

In 1993, SC Freiberg (above) was the first reported club to install solar panels on their roof and they are aiming to be at the forefront again with a new planned installation.

But 30 years on and with energy prices rising – is it time for a new focus on solar energy in sport?

Mounting solar panels on or nearby stadiums is not the only way for venues to make themselves more sustainable.

As a result of a Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with English investor giant Octopus Energy, Arsenal has become the first team in the Premier League to be 100% sustainable in their energy consumption.

By entirely sourcing its energy from renewable sources, the Gunners will save 2.32 million kg of carbon dioxide per year. This translates to the equivalent weight of 183 double-decker buses or the annual CO2 emissions of 580 fans.

Where can you find solar stadiums?

Although some countries use these assets more than others, Latin America has long been a region with outstanding solar conditions.

Chile has the most developed solar market in the region. But the title goes to Brazil when it comes to solar venues.

The largest American solar venue, which also holds the title of the largest solar venue globally, is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (above) which hosts the Indie 500.

Nearly 40,000 solar panels power the venue.

The aim of venue solar projects would not only save millions in energy costs and cut carbon emissions but may spearhead work in the residential sector.

Fans are exposed to the great qualities of this technology through watching their favourite teams.

What can solar energy do?

Imagine a stadium—a massive building requiring excessive amounts of energy.

Everything, from the stadium lights to the hot dog stands, slurps up the electricity.

And then there are offices, function rooms, training facilities, and sports grounds infrastructure.

Excellent opportunities for solar applications abound. The cost of installing and operating solar panels has dropped so sharply that the economic benefits significantly outweigh the costs.

One of the main drivers for integrating solar energy into European stadium infrastructure was when FIFA started the “Green Goal” program.

It was created in 2003, but its first debut was not until the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

World Cup focus

On the World Cup stage, Solar has increasingly been part of the World Cup landscape.

During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (above), 5 out of the 12 venues were solar-powered stadiums.

However, this was followed up by zero solar stadiums for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. None of the Russian stadiums use renewables for their power supply.

Qatar has made better efforts for this year’s World Cup.

Several stadiums developing as temporary structures with the contents transported to other venues post-event. They are also testing out solar pavements.

European aims

Moving back across the Atlantic to Amsterdam.

Ajax might play in red and white, but their stadium (above) is proudly green.

The innovative Johann Cruyff Arena runs on solar power. Energy is captured by 4,200 solar panels and stored in 148 electric car batteries.

During games, this energy can power the stadium.

It can export power to the national grid at other times. The batteries store enough electricity to supply 7,000 homes for an hour.

Borussia Dortmund Q-Cells, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar energy products, installed panels on the roof of the Bundesliga champions’ 80,720 capacity home, Signal Iduna Park.

This follows similar deals between rivals Bayern Munich and Chinese firm Yingli Solar. Plus there is the commitment of Chaori Solar – another Chinese company – to FC Schalke 04.

Green green grass of home

In the UK, you have to go down to the lower tiers to find the clubs leading the field for sustainability. Budgets are much tighter outside the Premier League.

In 2016, Bristol City renovated their stadium Ashton Gate and installed 460 solar panels on the roof. The plan is to reduce the club’s carbon emissions by 20%. They also want to cut its energy costs by £150,000 over 20 years.

League Two side Forest Green Rovers are “the greenest club in the world.”

This is according to football governing body FIFA.

They are living up to their reputation with bold plans to build a new wooden arena (above), which they say will be “the greenest stadium in the world.”

This is the latest step towards sustainability by the Gloucestershire club, owned by renewable energy entrepreneur Dale Vince.

Power is created by 100% renewable energy, and 170 solar panels do this from on the stadium roof.

100% green energy electricity and carbon-neutral gas from Ecotricity and this powers the rest of the club. The solar tracker at the ground entrance produces the rest.

The grass they play on is sustainable, free from pesticides and herbicides. They also cut the grass with a GPS-directed electric lawnmower.

Forest Green collects rainwater from beneath the pitch for pitch irrigation and has several electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

They are simply running from the sun.

If you’d like to find out more about how Climateshield Solar can help your stadium or sports venue with solar solutions and how you can save money on your electricity bills – and possibly even earn money, get in touch with our team today on 0333 444 2501 or email us at gosolar@climateshieldsolar.co.uk