Since starting to write for this blog, I’ve become more attuned to solar PV installations all around me … and they really are everywhere, along with cool solar products, references to renewable energy (especially with Earth Day coming up this month) and exciting new solar technologies. I laughed out loud when I realized I was following a SUNation truck on the Long Island Expressway the other day.
Traffic notwithstanding, I’m really noticing that solar panels pop up in many unusual places, and some have been there for a while, demonstrating this is proven technology that is viable right now — and continues to get even better.
Here’s a list of a few interesting places you may spot solar panels. (And as a homeowner, doesn’t it make you think: If a solar PV installation is good enough for these high-profile venues, why not my own roof?)
Staten Island Ferry Terminal – The Whitehall Ferry Terminal in downtown Manhattan sports 288 building-integrated solar photovoltaic panels — produced by Atlantis Energy Sytems — on the building’s facade and the canopy of the terminal. The 40kW system has been producing about 52,000 kWh of clean, free solar energy since its installation on the new terminal in 2006.
Pocono Raceway – One might not think of NASCAR racing as environmentally friendly, but Pocono Raceway, host of the Pennsylvania 500 race, boasts the largest solar PV installation in any sporting venue. The 3-megawatt solar PV system takes the form of a 25-acre solar farm with 40,000 panels in total. It covers all the electrical needs for the track plus 1,000 homes in the area.
Gillette Stadium – Home to the New England Patriots, Massachusetts’ Gillette Stadium, along with the adjacent Patriot Place shopping center, has been using a 525-kilowatt solar array since 2009. Now, the stadium and shopping complex will triple the amount of renewable energy produced with a 1-megawatt solar PV array, so that solar energy will produce 60% of the complex’s energy needs. The new array will be installed by NRG Energy of Milford, Connecticut.
Mall of America – This is not your typical solar PV installation. Instead, 1.2 miles of skylights that make up the building’s ceiling, plus residual heat from lighting fixtures and body heat from visitors, keeps the Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America a comfortable 71 degrees year round. The passive solar system is just one of the mall’s many green initiatives, which include recycling more than 60 percent of its waste, converting restaurant fryer fat into bio-diesel, and using live plants as natural air purifiers.