Solar panels on a football stadiumIn August Canadian Solar, one of the world’s largest solar companies, signed up for two years with Fulham FC to become their official solar energy partner. In fact they’re making a name for themselves by sponsoring a number of football clubs around the globe including Germany’s Hannover 96 and 1.FC Nuremberg.

In return for their sponsorship, Canadian Solar can expect to receive some high profile marketing and advertising opportunities. Their logo will be seen at all home games, on the digital perimeter advertising system and all over the stadium as well as featuring on the Fulham FC website homepage and all other advertising platforms associated with the club.

Bolton Wanderers have followed suit by securing sponsorship from Yingli Panels part of the Hanwha Group. Yingli Green Energy is the second biggest producer of panels in China and has been sponsoring football in Europe for some time, including Bayern Munich football club (FCB) and the forthcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Solar companies’ sponsorship of football clubs and events in the UK and Europe is an ideal way to broaden the awareness of solar brands at this critical point in time and looks to be a growing trend.

However, one football club has found another way to improve its financial future using solar. Barnsley FC hired Solar Europa, a local solar energy company, to install a system on its south and east stands at Oakwell Ground. The panels, which cost the club in the region of £1m to install, will be used to power the buildings and the club is hoping to save tens of thousands of pounds with their on-grid system.

Don Rowing, General Manager of Oakwell said, “With energy costs spiralling and likely to continue that way, it makes good business sense to use the large amount of roof space available to us to save the club money and also to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Mr Rowing has a good point and it will be interesting to see if other clubs will follow. Barnsley FC has become the first football club in the country to be powered by solar energy and Solar Europa is now the installer of the first solar PV project to a UK FC, but this seems a no-brainer for football clubs in general. One of the challenges for solar today is finding suitable space to situate enough to make a genuine difference. It’s not difficult to imagine the potential real estate offered by the 100+ stadiums in England alone.