You might be a bit surprised to hear that the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility in the world is a NASCAR track in Pennsylvania. Pocono Raceway, also known as the “Tricky Triangle” flipped the switch on Friday, powering up a 3 MW photovoltaic power plant located on an empty parking lot right next to the raceway. The new system will provide more than enough energy for the entire raceway facility, with the rest being fed back onto the grid to provide enough power for about 1,000 homes nearby. Not only is the system massive, but it was all American made and will pay itself off in about four to five years.
About 5 years ago the owner of Pocono Raceway, Doc Mattioli, started installing solar systems on top of his grandstand and garage buildings to produce power. Then a few years ago Pennsylvania announced its plans to deregulate the power industry in the state, which would raise the track’s electric bills by 40 percent a year, so track officials started looking for alternatives, including energy efficiency upgrades and producing their own power. They found that the best solution was to build their own 3 MW solar system on their property for a cost of $16 million.
The NASCAR solar system beats out the previous world’s largest solar powered sports facility, the Taiwan Solar Stadium, by over 1.8 MW and includes 40,000 photovoltaic panels on 25 acres of land. All the parts were either locally made or sourced within the states, with the panels coming from Ohio, the wood from Oregon, and the steel from California. The new system built by enXco officially opened on Friday, July 31st. It will completely power the raceway facilities, all ancillary buildings, a village that opened last year across from the raceway, as well as a hotel and restaurant in nearby Blakeslee.
Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky said, “the project will last for 40 years, and that’s a lot of time for that thing to be sitting there and making power. If we can do our little part not only for what we need, but also for the environment and society as a whole, it’s a win-win-win.” Let’s hope it’s always sunny in Pocono.
Photo credits: CNN and NASCAR