Greener Building > On-site Renewable Energy

Onsite Renewable Energy Generation

On-site renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, is a way to supply some of the power for your facility while reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many major companies, educational institutions, and governmental facilities now use some type of on-site renewable energy to provide power to their facilities.

For more detailed information about installing solar at your facility, consult “Solar Electric Energy for Your Stadium or Arena: A Guide to Understanding the Opportunities of On-Site Photovoltaic Solar Power Generation,” which provides an overview of the installation process, solar system ideas, cost estimates, and federal and state incentive information.

Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for a list of available incentives and rebates in your state.

On-site renewables can be cost-effective

On-site renewables, such as wind and solar power, are most likely to keep cost of your electricity stable, improve the fuel diversity of your system, promote your facility’s energy independence, and generate positive publicity by visibly demonstrating a civic commitment to reduce fossil fuel use. They also offer the potential to feed excess energy that is generated on-site back into the grid (called “net-metering,” which can turn your meter backwards), a potential source of income. In addition, there are incentives available that can reduce the initial capital cost.

On-site solar generation at corporate and sports facilities:

NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA installed a 25-acre solar farm with a 3-MW system, providing electricity for the entire raceway facility and 1000 homes nearby — between 3 to 4 million kWh per year. The track’s annual energy bill has been cut by $500,000. This installation, operating since August 2010, is currently the largest solar installation at a major US sports venue and the first that powers a major sports facility entirely by on-site renewable energy.

STAPLES Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks installed a 1,727 solar panel array in 2008, covering 25,000 square feet of the arena’s roof. The 345.6-kilowatt system supplies 2.5% of the building’s energy use (depending on energy load), producing 525,000 kWh and saving $55,000 each year.

AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, installed 590 solar panels in three different parts of the facility in 2007. These panels produce up to 122 kilowatts of renewable energy for Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers in San Francisco, the equivalent of about 40 home solar roof systems. As the first Major League Baseball stadium to feature solar power, this installation not only generates renewable energy, but has also provided a very visible showcase in the community of the importance of clean energy and energy conservation.

With the assistance of NRDC, the Philadelphia Eagles launched their “Go Green” program in 2003, making the organization one of the first in professional sports to initiate a comprehensive program focused on reducing its environmental impact. In 2010, they made an unprecedented announcement that Lincoln Financial Field will be the first professional facility in the U.S. capable of generating 100 percent of its own electricity onsite with the installation of about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines, and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel. The Eagles offset 100 percent of their current energy use through the purchase of 14 million kWh in wind energy credits annually from NativeEnergy, and through an on-site solar energy system at their NovaCare Complex training facility that generates 16,000 kWh per year.

Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, installed a solar energy system with 46 solar panels in 2007. The 9.8-kilowatt system can provide more than 14,000 kWh of energy, which could sufficiently offset the energy consumption of their LED scoreboard for more than a year, saving $12,000 a year on electric bills.

In June 2007, the Cleveland Indians installed a 42-panel solar electric system that generates enough power to run all 400 televisions throughout Progressive Field with 8.4 kilowatts of clean renewable energy (approximately 10,000 kWh/year). In 2011 the Indians partnered with the Cleveland State University’s Fenn College of Engineering to install a pioneering “helical wind turbine” design on the corner of the stadium in the hope that it will teach fans about the potential of renewable energy. The Indians’ turbine will be only 15 feet tall and is anticipated to generate a minimum of 40,000 kWh per year, enough energy to power four average American households for an entire year. The Indians will build the turbine at no cost to the Club thanks to grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Ohio.

FedEx Corporation constructed a solar array on the rooftops of two buildings at its facility at Oakland International Airport in 2005. The 904-kilowatt array provides approximately 80% of FedEx’s peak load demand and in so doing, reduces FedEx’s energy bills and the risks associated with unstable or rising fossil fuel prices. In 2009, FedEx installed a solar system atop its distribution hub in Woodbridge, NJ – the largest US rooftop solar system at the time. The 2.42-MW solar power system produces approximately 2.6 million kWh of electricity a year, providing up to 30 percent of the hub’s annual energy needs.

As of September 2009, Kohl’s has 78 solar power systems activated in California, Oregon, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut with another ten installations in various stages of construction. As the largest single host of solar electricity production in North America, their solar constructions will generate 25 megawatts of electricity in California alone when complete. This is greater than the electricity generation of the five largest photovoltaic systems in the U.S. combined and is equivalent to the electricity used by 3,087 California homes. It will avoid more than 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide in the first year. An average system on a California store will have 2,340 solar panels that will nearly cover the roof of the typical 88,000-square-foot building, and all solar systems will provide about 40% of each store’s power. Kohl’s largest system is their Distribution Center in San Bernardino, a 1MW system with 6,208 panels that generates enough to supply 400 homes for a year.

For more examples of onsite solar generation, visit the following website:
On-site Renewables at EPA Offices

Environmental Benefits

Fossil fuel energy generation – for electricity, transportation, and industrial uses – is the principal cause of air pollution and global warming. By generating electricity from on-site solar, your organization can reduce its demand for fossil fuel energy and also reduce its contributions to smog, acid rain, pollution-related illness, and global warming.

Additional Resources

EPA Green Power Purchasing Guide
Green Power Locator
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency