Rio Tinto Stadium Nears Completion on Solar Panels
Sep 09, 2015 11:48AM ● Published by Bryan Scott
By Ron Bevan
The largest privately-owned array of solar panels is nearing completion at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
On schedule to be completed in mid-October, the solar panels will help offset approximately 73 percent of Real Salt Lake’s total annual stadium power needs.
“We are actually ahead of schedule and may be completed by the end of September,” Craig Martin, general manager of Rio Tinto Stadium operations, said. “The crew is contractually obligated to be done by October 15, but things are looking good to be done earlier.”
Work on the solar panels began in April. Crews from Utah’s Auric Solar have been installing the 2,020-kilowatt system of solar panels on the existing stadium structure, as well as on new covered parking areas south of the stadium.
“The new solar covered parking structures will improve the quality of parking options for our 15,000-plus season ticket holders and provide our state and the surrounding environment with the largest solar energy offset for any U.S. professional sports venue,” RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said.
About 95 percent of the 6,414 solar panels are housed on the parking structure. When completed, it will be the largest solar panel array of any major league soccer stadium and the fourth largest of any sports venue, behind two race tracks and one football field.
“This idea came from our owner, Dell Loy Hansen,” Martin said. “He is a very forward thinker. He cares about the environment as well as our costs. This is one of the things he wanted us to explore and now it is almost here.”
The panels sit on top of the covered parking in such a way that they don’t distract from the visual impact of Rio Tinto Stadium.
When completed, the environmental impact of the solar array carries the equivalent of removing 450 cars from the road, or planting 47,218 trees annually. Although Martin didn’t have exact figures, he estimated the savings costs will run into several hundred thousand dollars annually.
“We are proud here at the stadium to have such an impact on the environment,” Martin said. “It is a feather in our cap, and it certainly is a feather in Sandy City’s cap.”