A Sporting Proposition: Going Solar and Totally Energy Independent

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Adhering to green initiatives is not just about conservation and environmentalism, but also cost savings. A new solar installation on a Costa Rican soccer stadium—the first of its kind in Central America—promises to accomplish all three.

Solar panels now rim the roofing on all four sides of the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto, located in Alajuela, Costa Rica, an especially environmentally sensitive country. The stadium is expected to generate nearly 400,000 kilowatt hours annually, saving about $148,000.

100% Energy Self-Sufficient

Installing the solar system was no snap. The stadium’s roof had to be reinforced before installing the solar panels. But the system, developed by power and automation technology group ABB together with Enertiva Energia Alternativa and installed in less than three months, will meet 100 percent of the stadium’s electricity needs—especially important in a country with dramatically rising energy costs.

The ability to install and benefit from solar panels in sports stadiums—or indeed in any area with a vast space open to the sky—has been an evolutionary one due to price. Where once the push for solar depended on subsidies to bring costs down, the landscape is much more competitive today in its own right, even as the price of oil declines, says ABB.

Driving this has been a global solar capacity that has increased ten-fold over the past five years, going from 15 gigawatts in 2008 to more than 170 gigawatts at the end of 2014. And it may double again in the next few years, according to ABB.

Vast sunny sports stadiums like the one in Costa Rica may be prime beneficiaries of solar power, and they’re taking advantage of it:
•    According to a study from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), total accumulative solar capacity in U.S. professional sports facilities—including 25 stadiums and arenas and 12 raceways—hit 21.7 megawatts in 2014.
•    Topping SEIA’s solar list is the Indianapolis Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500, with 9,000 kilowatts of solar power capacity.
•    The first stadium built to use 100 percent solar power is the Kaohsiung National Stadium in Taiwan in 2009. It is more than fully power-independent, and sells its excess power to businesses and utilities.

1015 A Sporting Proposition Going Solar and Totally Energy Independent In article

Figure 1: Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto features Central America’s first solar-powered stadium. (Source: ABB)

Lots of Sun Certainly Helps

A substantial growth in solar may be seen in sunny Southern climes, like Costa Rica. For example, in 2015, ABB completed the installation of 2 gigawatts of total solar capacity in India, with multiple orders coming from solar power developers, as well as engineering, procurement and construction firms.

In Honduras, ABB installed an integrated power and automation solution for the country’s largest solar plant at 100 megawatts, with modules that contain inverters, medium voltage switchgear, and transformers to convert and feed the generated power into the grid. And the company recently installed solar inverters and a plant management system in a solar field for Emirates Global Aluminum in Dubai, the first of its kind in the UAE.

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