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How much can the motorsports industry contribute to the environment through photovoltaic power generation?Steve Page, President of Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon Raceway)

Challenges for customers

Need for contributing to the environment in a racing circuit in beautiful and tangible forms

Sonoma Raceway (North America) is a venue for the IndyCar Series, the top racing series in the United States. However, even this world-famous circuit risks losing its importance if it fails to contribute to the environment in response to the depletion of oil and other fossil energy resources. The future of motor sports in general is at risk, so the reduction of CO2 emissions is required. Sonoma Raceway has adopted a large-scale high-efficiency photovoltaic power generation system with a design that does not detract from the surrounding scenery.

Sonoma Raceway promotes eco projects in partnerships with various companies. Panasonic has made a significant contribution to environmental load reduction through the creation of a photovoltaic power generation system.

Sonoma Raceway promotes eco projects in partnerships with various companies. Panasonic has made a significant contribution to environmental load reduction through the creation of a photovoltaic power generation system.

Initiatives

Pursuing the ideal generation efficiency through the 
right installation angle

The racetrack, which is located on a hill in California, is ideally suited for photovoltaic power generation. Moreover, one of the characteristics of the HIT series, a photovoltaic power generation system that boasts the industry's highest standard*1 of electric power generation, is that its generation efficiency doesn't decrease easily, even on a hot day. We have pursued the best angle of panel installation in order to generate as much electricity as possible, even if it's just 1% more. Through exhaustive simulations, we arrived at installation angles suitable for each installation location, such as an angle of 12 for the area above the racing school and 22.5 for the area above the grandstand.

*1 Annual power generation per kW of photovoltaic power generation system capacity; HIT233/240 series: 1,179 kWh (in the case of Osaka City) as of February 2012, based on the "annual power generation calculating formula" set by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association in the domestic residential photovoltaic power generation system industry; in-house research.

HIT series, photovoltaic power generation system
*HIT is a registered trademark and a proprietary technology of Panasonic's.

HIT series, photovoltaic power generation system
*HIT is a registered trademark and a proprietary technology of Panasonic's.

Tracking the sun to generate as much electricity as possible

LED digital signage is installed along the highway near the racetrack. To generate as much electricity as possible, the photovoltaic light panels used as the power source are also connected to an automatic solar tracking system. The path of the sun is input in advance so that the photovoltaic light panels can track its position, checking at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. As a result, electric power generation has increased by 20%. By using energy without wasting it, LEDs deliver an eco-conscious image to communities and fans outside the racetrack.

Raceway's LED digital signage operated by photovoltaic power generation

Raceway's LED digital signage operated by photovoltaic power generation

Photovoltaic light panels supplying electricity to the LED digital signage: Tracking the position of the sun to generate as much electricity as possible

Photovoltaic light panels supplying electricity to the LED digital signage: Tracking the position of the sun to generate as much electricity as possible

Designing a photovoltaic panel layout that does not disturb the view

Even if power generation is increased, the photovoltaic panels will never discourage spectators by destroying the view. Panasonic pursued the best installation method, using a proprietary framing technology to eliminate gaps between the panels. This successfully helped to keep the site beautiful. Thin, aluminum materials are used between the panels. While it was necessary to remove all the panels in the past even to remove one panel since they were intricately interconnected with wiring, our method allows each frame to be removed, making maintenance more efficient.

Framing technology

Framing technology

Effects

Covering approximately 41% of total electric power consumption with solar energy

The total amount of electricity generated from 1,652 photovoltaic panels can cover approximately 41% of the power consumption at the racetrack. Over the long term, Panasonic will continue to provide support, aiming to further increase power generation while proposing new ways to use photovoltaic power generation. Furthermore, the way that the panels blend in with the surrounding environment has been well received by visiting spectators, fans and employees. We have succeeded in clearly stating to the world that Sonoma Raceway is fulfilling its responsibility toward environmental conservation.

Emphasis was placed on keeping the site beautiful when installing photovoltaic light panels to the Jim Russell Racing School. Its finish has been well-received by fans and drivers.

Emphasis was placed on keeping the site beautiful when installing photovoltaic light panels to the Jim Russell Racing School. Its finish has been well-received by fans and drivers.

Raceway's environmental measures were important for sponsor companies. They also contribute to increased environmental awareness among fans and the parties concerned.

Raceway's environmental measures were important for sponsor companies. They also contribute to increased environmental awareness among fans and the parties concerned.

Steve Page, President of Sonoma Raceway (formerly Infineon Raceway)

Mr. Page, the President of Sonoma Raceway, said: "Our facilities have become significantly meaningful in that they deliver a clear message to spectators and drivers, who were not so interested in the environment because of their high priority on pursuing engine horsepower and performance only." Accordingly, with "energy creation" focused on photovoltaic power generation, "energy storage" for the storage of generated electricity, and "energy conservation" to ensure the careful use of electricity, Panasonic will expand our "energy solutions," which smartly combine the technologies we have developed over the years, throughout the United States.

*Products shown here may not be available depending on the country or region.

terminology
The industry's highest standard*1 of electric power generation

The conversion efficiency of photovoltaic light panels differs depending on cell type, such as monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The Panasonic photovoltaic power generation system HIT series incorporates various ideas necessary to deliver the best possible power generation performance. For example, they have enabled unimpeded electron motion and reduced power generation losses by creating a hybrid structure that combines monocrystalline silicon with our own unique amorphous silicon.
Our photovoltaic panels take in more sunlight by adopting low-reflectance glass combined with a pyramid structure on the surface that reduces diffuse reflections.

*1 Annual power generation per 1 kW of photovoltaic power generation system capacity, HIT233/240 series: 1,179 kWh (in the case of Osaka City) as of February 2012, based on the standard "annual power generation calculating formula" set by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association in the domestic residential photovoltaic power generation system industry; in-house research.

Excellent temperature characteristic

A drawback to photovoltaic power generation systems is that their power generation efficiency drops if the surfaces of the photovoltaic cell modules get too hot. However, Panasonic HIT panels maintain their electricity output over a wide temperature range and demonstrate stable power generation, even at high temperatures.

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