Daytona International Speedway’s legendary race track may be home to NASCAR racing, but for nearly two years it has also been a live laboratory for solar energy research.
The Florida Power & Light Solar Circuit, built in February 2016, is made up of 7,000 solar panels set on top of three structures around the speedway property – located at the Midway, UNOH FANZONE and the Lot 10 parking area, each covered with solar panels.
According to FPL, it is considered one of the largest distributed-generation installations in Florida, “helping to power the Speedway’s operations and FPL’s 4.8 million customers.”
FPL spokesman Stephen Heiman told WKMG-TV News 6 the system is one of the largest solar power installations in U.S. professional sports.
“As long as the sun is out and shining bright,” said Heiman, “solar energy is being generated here.”
Heiman told News 6 the clean energy generated by the installation will prevent the emission of an estimated 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year – “equivalent to an average vehicle driving more than 2 million laps around DIS.”
The FPL Solar Circuit is also equipped with high-tech data-gathering equipment that will be used as part of a multiyear research study the utility is conducting to improve the integration of solar energy and smart grid technologies.
FPL currently operates three solar power plants and numerous smaller solar installations for a total of more than 110 megawatts of solar generation in Florida today.
Heiman told News 6 FPL is also developing technology that will allow generated solar energy to be stored via batteries — something that could prove very valuable in times of hurricanes and major storms.