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NASCAR Claims World’s Largest Solar-Powered Stadium

0 by Beth Buczynski

A NASCAR raceway in Pennsylvania wins the race to install the most solar panels at a sports stadium.

Although an asphalt racetrack might not be the setting most people envision for a renewable energy breakthrough, NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., is the proud home of a new 3-megawatt (MW) ground-mount solar energy system, making it the first major U.S. sports venue to go green with 100 percent renewable energy.

(Disclaimer: We can neither confirm nor deny that NASCAR is actually a sport).

With a price tag of $17-million, the racetrack's 25-acre solar installation consists of nearly 40,000 photovoltaic modules that will produce more than 72 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years.

The vast array sits on land formerly used as a parking lot, and while will offsetting more than 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, it will also provide the primary source of electricity for the racetrack and add enough power for 1,000  homes to the local grid.

Dubbed the Pocono Raceway Solar Project, the array will a working demonstration of solar power to attendees of two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series summer events. Pocono Raceway, which owns the installation, claims the array “is so large it’s visible from outer space."

Auto racing may not seem a likely place for the enthusiastic embrace of green technology, but, as GetSolar points out "more than one race series has adopted cleaner sources of energy. The American Le Mans Series has used ethanol for some time, and NASCAR got into the act in 2008 when it switched from leaded to unleaded gasoline."

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