Pro football goes green?

Monday, May 7, 2012

This year the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles plan to install renewable electricity generation at the Eagle's home stadium.

Under the deal announced earlier this spring, energy and utility giant NRG will install 11,000 solar panels and 14 small-scale wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.  NRG reportedly plans to install solar panels along the south and west sides of the stadium as well as in parking lot space, with wind turbines lining the stadium's north and south sides.  Construction is supposed to be complete by the end of 2012.

Sporting facilities like pro football fields typically consume most of their electricity during the relatively few days of the year when they are used, so these renewable electric generation assets may never fully power the Eagles' field during a home game.  At these times, the stadium will most likely continue to draw power from the utility electric grid.  For this reason, it may be no coincidence that the deal also calls for NRG to become the official supplier of grid power to the stadium.

On the flip side, the solar and wind generation will likely produce most of its power when the stadium demands relatively little power, making Lincoln Financial Field a potential candidate for a net metering program such as Pennsylvania has enacted.  Over an entire year, reports suggest that the solar and wind assets proposed for Lincoln Financial Field will produce about six times the power used during all Eagles home games.

The NRG deal is not the first proposal to develop clean energy facilities at the Eagles' stadium.  In 2010, the Eagles announced a similar partnership with Solar Blue, which would have included a natural gas-fired cogeneration power plant in addition to solar and wind generation.  That project was ultimately scrapped.

Nevertheless, if the NRG project happens, the Eagles will join a growing trend of professional sports teams seeking to green their image, improve their sustainability, and cut their energy costs. 

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