NFL Increases Reliance on Solar Power

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We’ve all been hearing about the “arrival” of solar power for a long time. Maybe when it intersects with America’s favorite sport, we can say it’s finally happened.

Interesting fact: The most-watched television program of all time was held in a solar-powered venue. That was last year’s Super Bowl held in the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The San Francisco 49ers’ venue was completed in 2014 and was one of the first NFL stadiums to incorporate solar power into its design. Levi’s has 1,186 high-efficiency solar panels. Most are installed over three “energy bridges” that give fans a shaded walkway between the parking lots and the stadium. The remaining panels are installed over a “solar terrace” where season ticket holders can enjoy a shaded premium club with bar service, a lounge, and a green roof garden.

These panels can generate up to 375 kilowatts of electricity at a time, and enough over the course of the year to fully supply the electricity needed for every 49ers home game in a season.

The solar panels helped the stadium became the first gold “LEED” certified in the NFL, but teams across the country are jumping on the renewable power bandwagon. NRG Energy, the company that installed the system in Levi’s Stadium, has also installed renewable systems in several other NFL venues: FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey; and NRG Park in Houston.

Coming in 2017, Greenwave Energy customers will have the chance to purchase their own solar system and follow their favorite team into renewable electricity. In the meantime, check out our Renewable Energy Certificate program, which allows customers to pay for renewable power to go into the grid, even if the electricity they use is coming from their local utility. It allows you to ensure that your electricity demand is 100% renewable. Learn more here, and stay tuned for our solar program coming soon!

Apple Leads with Green Energy Commitment

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More and more companies are making renewable energy pledges, but they are not all necessarily installing their own solar panels. The computer giant Apple, for example, recently announced that it plans to utilize “100 percent renewable energy” in the near future. It is not so easy to go and purchase that amount of renewable electricity, however, even if you are flush with cash like Apple. The company actually founded its own utility company, Apple Energy LLC, which was then designated as a wholesale electricity seller. Apple Energy sells electricity pretty much just to Apple computer.

Many of Apple’s efforts are being led by Lisa Jackson, who was the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama. She is now Apple’s Vice President for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. Jackson says the company is actually expecting to save money by producing its own electricity, primarily through solar generated in California to serve Apple’s massive corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California.

So what can a company or a consumer do if it wants to use more renewables and does not have a pile of cash to found its own utility company? Renewable Energy Certificates may be the answer. Apple is actually part of a group called RE100, which is a global initiative of leading businesses that have pledged to use 100% renewable energy. Most companies in the RE100, including Apple up until recently, have relied heavily on purchasing certificates showing that the company has paid for the equivalent of enough renewable power to meet its needs. In other words, the company may use electricity generated by the local utility’s mix of renewable and fossil fuel, but it is paying for just the renewable portion.

Renewable energy certificates, or RECs, have been credited with sharply driving up the amount of renewable power being used around the world. If you want to learn more about using RECs to help the planet, Greenwave Energy can help.

Merger Joins Leading Green Tech Companies

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If billionaire Elon Musk has his way, your car and your house will soon become very good friends. The electric car developer was finally able to get permission to merge his two companies, Tesla and SolarCity, on November 17. He owns a little more than 20% of each company, and when they combine he will have what he calls a “one stop shop” for anyone seeking to cut ties with fossil fuels.

Shareholders voted to approve Tesla’s plan to buy SolarCity, paving the way for Musk to bring his two sustainable energy businesses together under the same solar-paneled roof. The $2 billion deal created some controversy, as neither company has come close to consistent profitability. Critics also argue that the companies are far too large to continue to be run by essentially Mr. Musk and some of his friends. But the merger was ultimately was approved by the vast majority of Tesla shareholders. A lot could still go wrong, though, as Tesla will now face the challenge of combining its operations with SolarCity’s thousands of employees and arguably completely different business.

Mr. Musk does not seem to think he is combining two completely different businesses. He sees one integrated product line. Tesla sells a product called Powerwall, which is a battery pack that is installed on the wall of your home. The Powerwall costs about $6,500 and can power a two-bedroom home for a full day. Tesla also sells the world’s top selling line of electric cars. Mr. Musk just sees the SolarCity panels as a way to collect sunlight to charge up the Tesla batteries in cars and homes.

SolarCity is bringing both its panels and its innovative financing option to the table. SolarCity will sell an installation for cash, but its other payment options do not require any money down. SolarCity will loan customers the money to install the panel or SolarCity can retain ownership. If SolarCity owns the panels, it will either lease them to customers or basically allow customers to purchase the electricity through a “power purchase agreement.” The cash-out-of-pocket payments are all supposed to be in the ballpark of a traditional utility bill.

Of course, not everybody has the ability to install solar panels on their roof. Renewable Energy Certificates provide these customers with a way to get into the game. Customers essentially get a coupon telling them that the amount of electricity they are buying off the grid is being offset by renewable energy elsewhere in the system. Learn more about Greenwave RECs here.