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Bremen’s solar stadium

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The stadium on the waterfront of the Weser river

The stadium on the waterfront of the Weser river

Aside from Café Ambiente, there’s another little renewable energy marvel in Bremen: a football stadium covered in PV cells.

A full six thousand square meters of the 42,000 seat Weser Stadion is covered in photovoltaic cells (that’s 200,000 individual cells!) for a capacity of 1,270 kW of electrical power. Yes, that’s right: the home of the Werder Bremen football team can generate over one megawatt of electricity when the sun is shining.

As Arthur Neslen writes in the Guardian,

“Our colours are green and white,” said Klaus Filbry, the managing director of Werder Bremen, which is home to Europe’s first and largest solar-powered football stadium.
“The green stands for being environmentally conscious and the white stands for peace. It is important for us. We get a lot of support from the community and we want to give back to them. All the electricity we produce goes into the grid system.”
Fans can sign up to buy 1% of their electricity from the stadium, which with a solar capacity of 1.2MW produces enough surplus energy to power 400-500 houses a year. The better the team perform, the lower the electricity tariff, although this is not a selling point for Bremen fans this year.
Not all the Werder Bremen players were initially excited by the green makeover. But Clemens Fritz, the team captain, told the Guardian: “When I heard that the stadium would be transformed into a ‘futuristic spacecraft’ I was delighted that it would not only look fantastic but also generate environmentally friendly energy.”
“The whole facade and roof were built for €11.5m,” according to EWE spokesman and Bremen fan, Christian Bartsche. “Economically, it just breaks even but in marketing terms it has such a positive image that it is a plus for us. The Weser Stadium is like a lighthouse that anyone can see as they fly into Bremen. It lights up the region.”

The stadium also installed a gas micro-turbine to gain further efficiency in heat and electricity generation, and hopes to reduce its energy needs from between 12 to 80%, depending on conditions. And this is no mean feat: a stadium like this is a huge consumer of energy, including a system of heating pipes below the playing surface to ensure proper drainage and playing conditions (okay, I confess I don’t quite understand this bit, but what do I know about football…). bremen stadium

There’s some talk of incorporating windmills into the lighting masts. That would make sense, considering that Bremen, in northern Germany, is much  windier than sunny. Why did they go for solar in the first place? Well, for one thing, solar PV make a unique architectural statement, something the club must have wanted. It’s also a visible sign of progress in the fight against climate change (Bremen was the first state to elect a Green government, which helped matters). Yes, these PV panels would have been more effective further south. But, along with many other solar projects, this contributed to create a demand for PV cells, and because of that demand PV systems are now cheap enough to compete with fossil fuel electricity. Given Germany’s stated intention to have 80% of its energy generated by renewable sources by 2050, this is pretty important.

But maybe even more important is the social buy-in into the whole initiative. So, go, Green-and-White, go! Yeah!


Written by enviropaul

September 12, 2015 at 3:21 am

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