Go Green: The Super Bowl Goes Green

By Tom Last

Watching the Super Bowl at home this year with my family and friends was fascinating. You had Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Christian McCaffery, Usher, and what’s her name in attendance. But what I was most impressed with was not the athletes and other entertainers, but the fact that this was the first Super Bowl fueled entirely by renewable energy, in this case solar power. This is a major environmental achievement and the first in the history of the event.

The Las Vegas Raiders, which call Allegiant Stadium home, have entered into a 25-year agreement to buy power from this new solar installation owned by NV Energy. The amount of energy that was used to power the Super Bowl was enough to power 46,000 homes. The solar farm that generates this power uses massive batteries to store renewable energy, ensuring power even when the sun isn’t shining. The NFL established NFL Green in 1993 to improve sustainability efforts within the organization and to make the Super Bowl the greenest professional sports event in the U.S. This stadium is by far the NFL’s greenest achievement.

Other green resources associated with the stadium include the roof made of a sustainable plastic material that allows about 10% daylight but blocks all solar heat, so it takes less energy to cool the building. The grass field is moved outdoors on a rail system to get natural sunlight rather than using energy-intensive growing lights. And everything from grass clippings to food scraps and cigarette butts are composted or converted into other forms of energy.

Overall, Nevada gets 23% of its energy from solar and 37% of its energy from all renewable sources combined, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Texas produces the most renewable energy of any state, and this will help consumers lower their energy bills compared to using fossil fuels. In the U.S., renewable energy production has nearly tripled over the past decade, and the Federal government has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emission by at least 50% by 2030.

Unfortunately, travel to and from sporting events has a major carbon footprint impact. This year’s Super Bowl had an estimated 1,000 private flights into Las Vegas for the game and one highly anticipated trans-Pacific flight to ensure Travis’s girlfriend didn’t miss the game. So, there is a lot more work to be done to increase renewable energy in the transportation sector.

There are many people who are skeptical of renewable power but hopefully those watching the game will have a different mindset about the reliability and effectiveness of it. Rapidly shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is one key in avoiding the worst effects of human-caused climate change. This is not to say the conversion to renewable energy will happen overnight. We do have to be practical and still use fossil fuels to supplement renewable forms of energy for a short period.

Let’s try to bring renewable energy into our homes and lives by looking at solutions such as solar panels, electric vehicles, electric storage units, or just learning how to conserve energy overall.

Remember, there is no Planet B.

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