Watch: Seattle arena will sport 1.2 MW of rooftop solar, no washing required


A $1 billion sports and entertainment venue under construction in Seattle will include onsite solar arrays with a capacity of 1.2 MW.

As might be expected from one of America’s cloudiest and rainiest cities, first-year project energy output is expected to be around 535 MWh. That modest output may be offset by bragging rights: The 18,100-seat Climate Pledge Arena–future home of the National Hockey League’s Kraken expansion team–aims to achieve net-zero carbon for all of its roughly 11 MW load.

To reach that goal, onsite solar will be mixed with off-site renewable resources, which could include a combination of solar and wind power from eastern Washington State, where conditions for both resources are better. The developers said that Seattle’s decidedly rainy climate will help wash the solar panels, a benefit that may not always make it into a project’s promotional brochure.

Altogether, solar panels will be installed at three sites related to the venue: a newly built atrium in front of the arena itself, an adjacent parking garage, and a training facility in another part of the city; that facility has a separate load of around 2 MW. Panels at the atrium site will be flush mounted on the roof. The parking garage will feature canopy solar at its rooftop level. And the neighborhood site will use a more conventional ballasted installation with panels at a 10-degree tilt.

The solar installer is McKinstry, and inverters are being supplied by Chint Power Systems.

Excelsior Energy Capital, Unico Solar Investors, Oak View Group, and the Kraken hockey franchise announced the solar plan for the 18,100-seat arena, which is being developed under a historic landmark roof that dates from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. That event almost 60 years ago also saw construction of the city’s landmark Space Needle.

Financial details on the solar installation were not disclosed, but project financing is through Excelsior’s $500 million Renewable Energy Investment Fund I LP. The hockey team will retire applicable renewable energy credits. And the developers plan to use a Washington State program that allows 50% recovery of related sales and use taxes once the project is completed.

Last June, Amazon bought naming rights to the arena. In a departure from usual corporate naming, Amazon chose to focus attention on climate change.

The Seattle installation is part of a 250 MW portfolio of commercial and industrial solar projects being developed by Unico Solar and Excelsior across North America.

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