Q: What do Taylor Swift and our century-old house in a Boston streetcar suburb have in common?
Posted on July 31, 2013
A: Both have had their performance enhanced by solar power.
This past weekend, 23 SolarWorld solar panels were busy lighting our home, washing our dishes, and charging up our electric car, laptops, and cell phones. Some 25 miles away, a much larger solar installation was soaking up the sun's energy at Patriot Place, the shopping arcade adjacent to the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium.
On Saturday evening, 55,000 Taylor Swift fans traveled to Gillette for the second New England performance of her "Red" concert tour. The surround-sound experience was overwhelming as tens of thousands of teens and tweens belted out the lyrics to every song. I know. I was there, wearing a crimson T-shirt custom-ordered by my 21-year-old daughter Tali. Its message, "Taylor's Oldest Fan," was embarrassingly close to the mark. Even Tali felt old as we listened to all those heartbreak ballads from our perches high up in the nosebleed section.
Few of Taylor's followers paid much attention to anything beyond the amped-up music and giant digital images of their celebrated star. But as Tali and I strolled among the shops and eateries at Patriot Place before the show, we happily took note of the sleek solar canopies overhead, elegantly fitted with translucent photovoltaic (PV) cells. Together with more conventional PV panels on adjacent rooftops, they generate up to 60 percent of the power consumed at Patriot Place.
After the show, as we inched our way home amidst a sea of fan-filled cars, I couldn't help thinking of all the carbon emissions generated every time there's a game or show. Smarter siting integrated into Boston's urban fabric and linked to Boston transit would have gone a long way toward making Gillette more climate-friendly.
On-site solar energy doesn't come close to making up for all those vehicle miles traveled by New England football and concert fans, but it's a step in the right direction - one being followed by sports team venues across the country.