“A Fuel-Belching Nascar Track Has Big Plans for Solar Power” — Greenwashing or not?
Question ofthe week: Is this greenwashing a highly polluting sport — or animportant act and useful message from a key segment of society neededto eventually achieve the full clean energy transformation? Relatedquestion: Will NASCAR exist in its current form in a couple of decadeswhen the global Ponzi scheme collapses and oil is over $200 a barrel?
Pocono Raceway, which hosts two Nascar Sprint Cup raceseach year, plans to construct the world’s largest solar energy projectat a sports facility….
Mike Lynch, who joined Nascar in October as managing director ofgreen innovation, said the Pocono solar farm would set a standard forsports.
“We have a power footprint that can be addressed with renewableenergy,” he said. “We see the Pocono project as one that’s a fantasticexample 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 thinkthat the fact that it’s a raceway that’s going to be the sportsfacility that’s really going to go all out and do this, I think itdefinitely puts us in a league of our own.”
About 40,000 photovoltaic panels are to be installed on25 acres across the street from the racetrack on property that had beenused as a parking lot for races. The solar farm is expected to generatethree megawatts once it is completed, in spring 2010, making itPennsylvania’s largest such facility, Igdalsky said. The project isexpected to cost $15 million to $17 million but more than pay foritself over time.
A number of prominent sports sites use solar energy, includingTaiwan’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 inBern, Switzerland.
But Pocono’s solar farm could generate the most power by far.Igdalsky said the track decided to go this route when deregulationthreatened to raise the track’s annual power bills by nearly 40percent, to as much as $500,000.
“We needed a way — how can we save the most money on our powerusage?” Igdalsky said. “It’s good for us. It’s good for theenvironment. It’s good for the community.”
Pocono Raceway officials anticipate generating considerable moneyeach year — in the “seven figures,” Igdalsky said — by selling theenergy produced to PJM Interconnection, a regional transmissionorganization that operates a wholesale electricity market and grid.
Generating solar energy at sports facilities appears to be catchingon. Christopher Moffatt, a founder of Evolution Energies, a solardevelopment company that worked with Pocono Raceway, said in an e-mailmessage that the company was involved with several professional andcollege 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 thatis finishing plans to build the solar farm at Pocono. The same companyis building a solar facility for the Long Island Power Authority and isinvolved in several projects in New Jersey.
“That’s the first time we’ve had a request from a racetrack; I wasquite surprised,” said Tristan Grimbert, the president and chiefexecutive of enXco. “I think it’s a promising market.”
Nascar, which markets a gas-powered sport, has begun severalprograms to help the environment, including a project to plant 20 acresof trees a year at racetracks to help offset carbon dioxide emissions.
Tree planting doesn’t impress me, since the CO2 belched from carsand power plants has mean lifetime in the atmosphere of thousands ofyears (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?
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