San Francisco 49ers' Solar Powered Stadium

NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) Brings Sustainability to Football


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By Brianna Panzica
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Here in Baltimore, we'll be rooting for our hometown team this Sunday as the Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

As one of the most-watched shows in U.S. history, it's bound to be exciting. And regardless of the outcome, the Ravens will come back to a proud city.

But the 49ers will have something else to come home to. By the spring of 2014, the team will have a completely new Santa Clara Stadium designed to take advantage of solar power.

The project is spearheaded by NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), a power generation and electricity company that puts a focus on clean energy and climate change prevention. In conjunction with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the San Francisco 49ers, NRG will bring solar elements to the new stadium sufficient to entirely offset the whole season's worth of home games.

This stadium is the first professional sporting venue that will achieve that net zero capacity. It will be granted LEED certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, by the U.S. Green Building Council, for this achievement.

Though it's not yet clear whether the stadium will be granted silver, gold, or platinum standard by the Council, many expect it will qualify for gold.

The renovations are no simple additions, either. The new facility will feature three solar bridges providing covered walkways to the stadium from the main parking area.

The stadium itself will have a green roof – a 27,000 square foot landscaped, living roof canopy that will insulate the suites on the stadium's west side. And other parts of the stadium will also feature solar panels to create a total peak capacity of 400 kilowatts of solar power.

NRG plans to encourage sustainable transportation habits as well. The stadium will have easy access to public transportation, bicycle parking, and connection to a bike path.

From the press release:

“NRG is much more than a Founding Partner, they are providing the energy leadership, infrastructure and expertise to help us achieve the vision of making the new Santa Clara Stadium an economically and environmentally sustainable showcase for innovation,” said Jed York, Chief Executive Officer, San Francisco 49ers. “As we strive to build a stadium that embodies all that is unique and special about both the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, this partnership with NRG will make very lofty goals become realities.”

And if the currently planned projects weren't enough, NRG will continue to participate in updates to the stadium going forward. The company envisions bringing electric vehicle charging stations to the parking lot in the future, as it also detailed in plans for the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field.

NRG is not new to electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It's leading the eVgo project, which aims to install a network of DC fast-charging stations across the country.

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The new Santa Clara Stadium will cost roughly $1.2 billion and have the capacity to seat 68,500 fans. Of that seating, 9,000 will be club seats, and an estimated 165 luxury suites will be included.

In addition to housing the 49ers, the venue will also feature as a concert venue and the hub for other sporting events such as motocross and soccer, as the press release indicates.

And even before it's built, the stadium is already preparing for big things. Niners Nation reports that it is one of just two facilities being considered to host Super Bowl L in 2016.

NRG plans on bringing sustainability to a number of stadiums across the country, including the aforementioned FedEx Field. This sustainability movement in major U.S. sporting stadiums is a huge step for solar expansion, which could benefit not only from the large-scale installations but also from the visibility to such a large and diverse audience.

Solar prices are coming ever closer to parity with fossil fuels, and as the prices stay low, solar energy companies that install the arrays will be the ones to benefit.

That's all for now,

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Brianna Panzica

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Energy & Capital's modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends. For more on Brianna, see her editor's page.


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