Question of the week: Is this greenwashing a highly polluting sport — or an important act and useful message from a key segment of society needed to eventually achieve the full clean energy transformation? Related question: Will NASCAR exist in its current form in a couple of decades when the global Ponzi scheme collapses and oil is over $200 a barrel?
Pocono Raceway, which hosts two Nascar Sprint Cup races each year, plans to construct the world’s largest solar energy project at a sports facility….
Mike Lynch, who joined Nascar in October as managing director of green innovation, said the Pocono solar farm would set a standard for sports.
“We have a power footprint that can be addressed with renewable energy,” he said. “We see the Pocono project as one that’s a fantastic example of how it can be done.”
So the NYT report Thursday in “A Fuel-Belching Nascar Track Has Big Plans for Solar Power.” Certainly it’s much better that they are doing this than not — and this isn’t a rip-offset REC purchase (see “Schendler II: Good RECs vs. Bad RECs“). Here’s more of the story:
“I think it’s unique,” Pocono Raceway’s president, Brandon Igdalsky, said in a telephone interview this week. “I think that the fact that it’s a raceway that’s going to be the sports facility that’s really going to go all out and do this, I think it definitely puts us in a league of our own.”
About 40,000 photovoltaic panels are to be installed on 25 acres across the street from the racetrack on property that had been used as a parking lot for races. The solar farm is expected to generate three megawatts once it is completed, in spring 2010, making it Pennsylvania’s largest such facility, Igdalsky said. The project is expected to cost $15 million to $17 million but more than pay for itself over time.
A number of prominent sports sites use solar energy, including Taiwan’s National Stadium, which recently hosted the World Games; AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants; Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians; and the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in Bern, Switzerland.
But Pocono’s solar farm could generate the most power by far. Igdalsky said the track decided to go this route when deregulation threatened to raise the track’s annual power bills by nearly 40 percent, to as much as $500,000.
“We needed a way “” how can we save the most money on our power usage?” Igdalsky said. “It’s good for us. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the community.”
Pocono Raceway officials anticipate generating considerable money each year “” in the “seven figures,” Igdalsky said “” by selling the energy produced to PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that operates a wholesale electricity market and grid.
Generating solar energy at sports facilities appears to be catching on. Christopher Moffatt, a founder of Evolution Energies, a solar development company that worked with Pocono Raceway, said in an e-mail message that the company was involved with several professional and college football teams looking at similar options for their stadiums. Some arenas that host N.H.L. teams are also discussing the concept.
That could mean more work for enXco, the French-owned company that is finishing plans to build the solar farm at Pocono. The same company is building a solar facility for the Long Island Power Authority and is involved in several projects in New Jersey.
“That’s the first time we’ve had a request from a racetrack; I was quite surprised,” said Tristan Grimbert, the president and chief executive of enXco. “I think it’s a promising market.”
Nascar, which markets a gas-powered sport, has begun several programs to help the environment, including a project to plant 20 acres of trees a year at racetracks to help offset carbon dioxide emissions.
Tree planting doesn’t impress me, since the CO2 belched from cars and power plants has mean lifetime in the atmosphere of thousands of years (see “Carbon is forever: Fossil CO2 impacts will outlast Stonehenge and nuclear waste“). But 40,000 PV panels is a different matter. What do you think?