Solar power to put wind in sails of Ben Ainslie Racing

UK-based renewable energy investment firm Low Carbon has today (1 February) unveiled a new project which will help reduce the carbon footprint of the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team.

Land Rover BAR’s supplier will provide energy for its team to compete in Bermuda during the America’s Cup 2017. The energy will come from a new 93.6MWh solar installation at the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) in the Royal Naval Dockyard, which is expected to save 43tCO2e each year and reduce the museum’s electricity bills by 20%.

Low Carbon chief executive Roy Bedlow said: “We continue to support Land Rover BAR as a sustainable sports team, and applaud their goal to minimise their impact on the precious resources of Bermuda. By partnering with them on this project, we will be aiming to produce enough energy to match and even exceed the amount that the team use whilst on the island.

At the same time, we’ll be leaving an important sustainable legacy for Bermuda, as our project will keep producing renewable energy long after the team has left. It is exciting to be working with Land Rover BAR, local businesses and the museum to apply solar energy in an effective, targeted way that will benefit the people of Bermuda for years to come”.

Leaving a legacy

The installation, scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, is guaranteed to provide a minimum of 30 years of energy production, saving 1,220 tonnes of CO2.

The ground-mounted solar system will be funded by Low Carbon as well as a private donation from The Stempel Foundation, and will be completed by Bermudan renewable energy company BESolar. It has been specifically designed to withstand Bermuda’s corrosive, humid and hurricane prone environment.

Sir Ben Ainslie, team principal and skipper for Land Rover BAR commented: “We have set our goal to be the most sustainable sports team, and feel it is important for our team to have a minimum impact on Bermuda and leave a legacy behind us when we left Bermuda.

“The solar project is one of the most important projects to be delivered by our partners – although our goal is to take the Cup home, we want to leave plenty behind us that will benefit the island and its people.”

Sailing ahead

The announcement further highlights the extent to which the Land Rover BAR sailing team has raced ahead in its quest to become the UK’s most sustainable professional sports team. Last summer, the organisation became the first British team to operate from a BREEAM Excellent building, while the year before, the team put in place an array of sustainability measures at its headquarters in Portsmouth.

In recent times, the shipping sector has witnessed innovative solutions shifting the industry towards a sustainable trajectory, including the world’s first self-sufficient boat powered by 100% renewable energy, which is currently in preparation for a six-year trip around the world.

Japanese organisation Peace Boat is about to introduce its Ecoship design, which could cut carbon emissions from cruise voyages by 40%. The concept was originally unveiled at COP21, when the world’s largest solar boat played host to six environmental conferences and events during the conference.

George Ogleby

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