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A stadium – designed like a flower for the desert, with red solar panels covering all upwards facing surfaces – has been proposed by an architectural design house for Austin, Texas.

The development group gives no data on the solar energy production of the site, just that the ‘panels’ will be red. A rough calculation using a few estimations, suggests the project could potentially hold 6-8MW of solar panels, generate 9.5-11.3GWh electricity per year and $1.14-1.35M in revenue.

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled plans for a massive solar-powered stadium in the East Austin District of Austin, Texas. The proposed site will cover 1.3 million sq ft, and will host soccer, rugby, basketball, music events, rodeos, hockey, medical facilities, conventions and other programs. The stunning facility will be arranged in a checkered pattern, and the roof will consist completely of all red photovoltaic panels, making the entire property self-sufficient.

The facility will contain two arenas: a 40,000 seat outdoor bowl intended for professional sports and a 15,000 seat indoor multi-purpose arena. 190,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art premium facilities will conjoin the two arenas providing shopping, dining and hospitality for concertgoers and sporting enthusiasts. At the edge of the property 28,000 sq ft of youth facilities will provide opportunities for local businesses, schools, and even employment opportunities.

Like a collective campus rather than a monolithic stadium, the East Austin District unifies all the elements of rodeo and soccer into a village of courtyards and canopies. Embracing Austin’s local character and culture, the East Austin District is a single destination composed of many smaller structures under one roof. Part architecture, part urbanism, part landscape – the East Austin District is the architectural manifestation of collective intimacy – a complex capable of making tens of thousands of fans come together and enjoy the best Austin has to offer inside and between its buildings.” explains Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

The project does not yet have funding.

Commercial Solar Guy’s Take

The group released no data on the solar panels, the system size, energy production, etc – they only mentioned that the location would generate more than it used and that the panels would be red. If they’re using standard solar panels – there are solutions to make those panels red, with minimal amounts (~10%) of efficiency loss. The design firm did suggest that the site would take up 1.3 million sq2 ft.

If half of that is the actual building, and of that building area 75% of it has roofspace (lots of open areas), and 90% of the roof has southfacing space – and we can use 90% of that roofspace to actually attach panels to (exhale) – we should be able to place about 18,692 solar panels. If we go high-efficiency, we can get about 7.7MW of solar panels up there – with a standard efficiency product at 350W we can get 6.5MW in a space like that.

Austin gets about 5 usable hours of sunlight per day, on average. That means 9-11GWh of electricity produced per year by a 6.5-7.7MW system – an average home uses 0.000012GWh/year (12,000kWh). Based upon local energy prices being about 12¢/kWh – that big roof is worth $1.1-1.4M/year.

And that final number is the whole reason I wrote this article – what commercial manager doesn’t want to make an additional million plus per year off of the roof? Call me crazy, but corporate real estate managers need be conscious of this $1/sq foot/year. I know it’s a small amount relative to what they rent inside space for, but this covers the site costs.

By John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.

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