Eagles' new powerhouse: 11,000 solar panels plus turbines

I had fun with this morning's story about the new solar array at Lincoln Financial Field.

The $30 million array cost roughly as much as the team's five highest-paid players. And, as one observer noted, the panels, with an expected career of 20 years, certainly will last longer than the players.

Another cool tidbit that didn't make it into the story: The challenge at the Linc was that the panels needed to withstand exposure not only to the elements, but to the percussive effects from fireworks, which are launched overhead during games. Engineers were worried the panels would short out.

So NRG, the Princeton-based energy company that installed and owns the Eagles' array, as well as renewable energy features at other NFL stadiums, incorporated "enhanced structural features" to protect the panels from all those good vibrations.

I still get plenty of emails from people skeptical of the value of solar. Most people point out that it hasn't yet reached price "parity" with other forms of energy. The industry points out that the gap is closing. NRG'sTom Gros said that in many places in the country, arrays CAN get close to parity. And then, of course, there's the pricetag for health problems related to air pollution from traditional fossil fuel sources, which often doesn't get factored into these arguments.

Meanwhile, in January, an interesting report came out about the power of solar to change -- and possibly destroy -- the utility industry. Grist's David Roberts wrote about it recently.

"Solar power and other distributed renewable energy technologies could lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground," he wrote, adding, "That is not wild-eyed hippie talk. It is the assessment of the utilities themselves."

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