Start Your Engines: Solar Power Hits the Speedway

Last week the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500, unveiled its 9-MW solar farm, making it the largest solar plant at any sporting facility in the world.

An aerial view of the 9-MW Indianapolis Motor Speedway solar pv farm.

Joining the ranks of other stadiums that sport solar, such as several FIFA World Cup soccer venues in Brazil and a range of U.S. football stadiums, the speedway features more than 39,300 PV modules on a previously underutilized 68-acre portion of its campus located near the backstretch of the race track.

“In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in part to help advance the automotive industry, which at that time was the new technology of the day,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “Today…the unused land at the IMS property just east of the race track has been transformed into a solar energy production facility that will provide an alternative source of energy to IPL customers.”

In partnership with Blue Renewable Energy, California-based Sunwize Technologies designed, engineered and installed the system. It will not only provide power for the sporting facility, but excess power will be fed back to the grid through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPL), which will own all Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) produced by the system. 

Though Indiana is not typically noted for its solar progress, it is worth noting that Indianapolis also became home to North America’s largest airport solar installation earlier this year — a 12.5-MW PV plant at the Indianapolis International Airport. 

“The new IMS solar farm,” said Ken Zagzebski, President of AES’ U.S. Strategic Business Unit, parent company of IPL, “will be a constant reminder to those who visit the largest spectator sporting facility in the world of the creative solutions taking place here in Indianapolis to increase sustainability.”

Click here for an infographic detailing statistics about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway solar project. 

In 2011, the 3-MW Pocono Solar Raceway won the Readers’ Choice Award from RenewableEnergyWorld.com readers. At the time, it was the largest solar PV farm at a sports complex.  Watch Brandon Igdalsky, president of the raceway and enXco representatives discuss various aspects of the project below:

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