California raceway gets 1,600 solar panels, flaunts green track status

As far as sports go, the one where you drive cars around in circles several times is likely not one of the most energy efficient. With that in mind, it's nice to see locations like Northern California's Infineon Raceway working toward sustainability, announcing this week the installation of more than 1,600 solar panels. The panels, manufactured by Panasonic, will provide around 41-percent of the Infineon's energy usage. Also on its list of earth-friendly features: a solar-powered billboard and 3,000 sheep, which take care of a lot of the lawn mowing on the grounds and apparently aren't of the electric variety.

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Infineon Raceway Lights Up With Major Panasonic Solar Panel Installation

SONOMA, Calif., June 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Infineon Raceway, in partnership with Panasonic, has completed a major milestone in energy conservation with the successful installation of 1,652 solar panels at the famed Northern California raceway.

The project, part of Infineon Raceway's long-standing sustainability initiative, was unveiled to the racing world press for the first time today. The event offered members of the media the opportunity to examine the installation, meet key Infineon Raceway and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company executives, and learn more about Panasonic's plan to become the number one green innovation leader in the electronics industry by 2018 and Infineon's goal of becoming one of the most energy-efficient raceways in the world.

The high-efficiency solar panels, manufactured by Panasonic's Sanyo division, will cover 41-percent of the raceway's energy usage. In a further move designed to reduce energy consumption, Panasonic has also provided the raceway with a low-energy LED video board, replacing the current installation on Highway 37.

To emphasize the importance of energy conservation, Infineon Raceway had the solar panels installed so that they would be visible to the majority of fans attending events at the facility. Panels have been placed above the Turn 10 Sound Wall, the Main Grandstand, the administration office and the Raceway Cafe, as well as the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School building. Race fans will have an opportunity to see them during this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Separate from the energy savings achieved by the solar panel arrays, Panasonic's new full-color, dual-sided LED video board will use less energy than the previous sign, which was powered by 7,000 traditional light bulbs. Easily visible from Highway 37, the new board measures 5.77' high by 17.32' wide, and uses 57,600 LEDs to create messages brighter than the older technology. Yet, it consumes just 50% of the energy of the board it replaces.

"The installation of Panasonic's high-efficiency solar panels and board is a major milestone in Infineon Raceway's Accelerating Sustainable Performance program," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. "We're honored to be teaming with Panasonic as our Visionary Partner in this significant venture."

As part of its commitment to achieving a sustainable future, Infineon Raceway has already introduced low/no carbon racing, boasts a comprehensive recycling program and even uses 3,000 sheep to trim the grass around the track and grounds.

The photovoltaic cells in Panasonic's solar panels are manufactured in the United States in Salem, Ore. The aggregate impact of the installed panels is generation of 353 kilowatts of power. It is estimated that the installation will save 34,000 barrels of oil over 30 years.

"Panasonic has publically stated its goal to be the number one green innovation company in the electronics industry by 2018, which will mark Panasonic's 100th anniversary," noted Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company. "Our valued partnership with Infineon Raceway is one more example of how we intend to make good on this commitment."