Let The Sunshine In

Full disclosure: I love learning about new technology. I’m also a child of a hippie. This is the only earth we have so let’s try and do our best to be good stewards of it. Solar energy fascinates me!

In Indiana we have a handful of unique solar farms. The largest solar farm in Indiana is the one surrounding the Indianapolis Airport, providing 17.5 megawatts (Mw) of power. I enjoy driving past it, it seems to stretch out and almost envelop the airport when you pull up to arrivals. There’s also the largest solar roof in Indianapolis. This covers  the roof of a large warehouse, this provides 3.2 megawatts of power. It’s not just houses, and roofs, and airports that are getting into this solar energy game. Quite a few sports arenas have also started to use solar power. In the United States FedEx field in Washington; Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah; Lincoln Financial Field in Pennsylvania uses both solar and wind; and Pocono Raceway also uses solar power. There’s one sports facility in particular though which has can boost the largest solar farm for any sports facility: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which provides 9.6Mw of power. Let’s get this technology term out of the way, a megawatt is a unit of power and to bring it to realistic terms one megawatt will power approximately one hundred and sixty-four houses.

Without diving too much into my few years as a chemistry major, a solar farm is the rows of solar panels that you have seen on some houses. The fancier title is photovoltaic (light energy) power station. The solar panels take the light energy from the sun and transforms it into direct current power. At these farms there needs to be a converter which switches the direct current into alternating current so it can connect to a city’s power grid. The pros of this technology is that it reduces the cost of utilities and reduces dependency on other forms of energy. A big downside to this whole thing is cost. It’s not cheap to install solar panels. There are a lot of rebates and credits on a state and federal level. It seems like new technology. We don’t see a lot of solar farms around us, but the first solar power farm opened in 1982. 

At the IMS the solar farm is located  across the tracks from the golf course. If you want more specifics (aka you want to find it on Google Maps) it’s bounded by 21st Street on the South, Tibbs on the East, the Brickyard crossing on the West, and Eagledale shops on the North. I’ve spent quite some time at the IMS and I’ve yet to see the farm from anywhere I’ve been. Granted I don’t look for the solar farm when I’m at the race – but then again I’m typical paying attention to something else.  

The construction on the solar farm started in May of 2013, continuing on the tradition of the IMS’ technological advancement. Some deep legal language here, the farm puts off energy that is controlled and owned by Indianapolis Power and Light Company ( they’ll own the Solar Renewable Energy Credits…), and the land is  leased to the corporation who built the system. The project was completed in June of 2014.

The solar farm is built on 68 acres but uses primarily 41.5 acres. By comparison the IMS is in approximately 650 acres. The farm has just shy of 40,000 solar panels. It puts out approximately 9.6mw of power. That would be powering about 1,000 houses. Even better for Indiana is that other states can buy the energy credits IPL doesn’t use.

We all know, the IMS is really a hub for automotive technological advancement, it’s great that they’re also harnessing newer energy. There is a stadium in Turkey, Antalya Arena, which during non-game days the solar panels on the stadium power it. Sure it would probably take a lot more solar panels for this to work at the IMS, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

I’m all for this, but I cannot handle if they put in the wind farms. Those things creep me out.  

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Sources

https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/ohio-energy-inc/2014/10/indianapolis-motor-speedway-wants-to-sell-solar.html

https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/em4376/

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