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Pro Sports Teams Go Solar

Insights + Opinion

When it comes to clean energy and sustainability, solar looks to be a shoo-in one day for the “green” Hall of Fame. Today, more and more sports teams, sports leagues and sports organizations are embracing the advantages of solar energy.

 

At Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels installed. Photo credit: NRG Solar

On Monday, the National Hockey League (NHL) released a new sustainability report, saying, in part, “We believe it’s important to invest in clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro in North America. Supporting clean energy will help achieve long-term benefits for our business, such as price stability.”
 
The report went on to add: “In addition to pursuing reduction measures, five NHL arenas now supply a portion of their power needs for the facility by using on-site solar power or lower-emission energy sources, such as biogas-fueled fuel cell technology.”
 
One good example of this growing trend are the Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, who play at the world-famous, multi-purpose Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Far away from the view of fans, the Staples Center has 1,727 solar panels on its rooftop. Today, this state-of-the-art, 364-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system provides up to 20 percent of the facility's energy needs on a non-game day and a portion of the power it needs when the puck is dropped for the opening faceoff.
 
Clearly, solar has become a fan favorite. From San Jose to Winnipeg and Tampa Bay to Montreal, communities that embrace professional hockey are embracing solar energy, too. We commend the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman for their ongoing commitment to renewable energy and a cleaner environment. They recognize, like so many others, that clean, affordable and reliable solar energy creates thousands of new jobs on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, pumps billions of dollars into our respective countries’ economies and helps to significantly reduce pollution. We’re proud to share our "green team" colors with the NHL and look forward to being part of a winning "power play" that benefits both of our great nations as well as the environment.
 
But hockey isn’t alone in the solar spotlight. Earlier this month, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS)–home to the greatest racecar event in the world, the Indy 500–installed the largest solar-powered system of any sporting facility in the world. That’s right–the world! IMS boasts a 9.6 megawatt (MW) PV system, employing 39,312 solar modules, bringing new meaning to that famous Brickyard saying: “Start your engines." Clearly, solar is off and running at the Indy 500, lapping all other forms of renewable energy.
 
Major League Baseball and the National Football League have "drafted" solar systems, too. At Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels installed; the San Francisco Giants have 590 solar panels at AT&T Park; the Boston Red Sox are currently heating nearly half of their hot water with solar thermal panels; and the St. Louis Cardinals are producing 32,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar energy per year at Busch Stadium.
 
Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America. But guess what? You can also make a persuasive case that we are actually #1 overall. According to a recently-released report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) natural gas and solar ran 1-2 in new capacity installed in the first half of 2014, with 1,555 MW of natural gas coming online and 1,131 MW of solar. But if you add in the 457 MW of distributed generation solar added (and in the first quarter of this year alone!)–something FERC fails to take into account–solar topped all other forms of energy with at least 1,588 MW of new installed capacity.
 
So quietly, without anyone really noticing, solar is now leading the energy Super Bowl at halftime. How will the rest of the year turn out? Let’s just say that I like our chances a lot, and I’m betting on the home team!

 

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.