03 October 2013

WHAT IF THE MCG WENT SOLAR?

Given that there is a bit of ‘footy fever’ going on surrounding the AFL grand final, it got me thinking: does the MCG use any solar energy? Our sporting Mecca, and a national icon, one would think it should be a shining example of renewables, but I, for one, haven’t ever heard a thing about it using the sun. I have heard of the World Game Stadium in Taiwan—or now I think it’s known as The National Stadium—being the first stadium to utilise solar energy for its power needs, but not even a solar-powered hotdog stand at our own MCG.

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The National Stadium, designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, is covered in 8,844 solar PV panels, which provide enough power for the 3,300 lights and two giant television screens, plus extra power that can be saved. That’s pretty impressive for a 55,000-person capacity stadium, no? Plus, the stadium’s renewable energy efforts will prevent 660 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released.

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Above: National Stadium, covered in solar panels.

 

Across the globe, the Philadelphia Eagles have 2,500 solar panels on their stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, plus wind turbines and natural gas generator. Major League Baseball teams have also joined in the efforts to go green, with the San Francisco Giants adding 590 solar panels to their stadium at AT&T Park. The solar panels generate enough energy to power the huge scoreboard, which consumes as much power as 40 homes.

Yet, when I Googled ‘solar energy, MCG’ – crickets. All I found with the two in the same sentence was an article stating that the MCG lights could run continuously for 74 years with the amount of energy saved by Victorian businesses and homes over the past two years. They’re surprised that average electricity bills have increased a cool $920 million—that’s $410 each on average—during the same two-year period. Quite frankly the only thing that surprises us about that, is that they’re surprised.

The MCG website tells us that the there is a metal roof area of 14,000 square metres, and two main video boards, each of 108 square metres area. Maybe if some of the 14,000 square metres of metal roofing housed some solar panels, we’d be able to use the power generated to power those incredibly large screens. Or the six light towers that use the same power as 1,000 houses. Or the 540 TV monitors in the new stand, or the 13 escalators, or the 12 passenger lifts, or the 3 goods lifts…

We say if Taiwan can make it happen, so can we. If Victorians can save the energy of 74 ‘MCG light years’—the equivalent of taking 200,00 homes of the grid completely—then they should be afforded the pleasure of seeing their favourite state icon join them in their efforts.