Championship football club Sunderland is exploring the potential to develop a canopy solar farm above the car park surrounding the Stadium of Light.
The solar farm would create a private electricity network for the benefit of the club and other businesses located on the stadium site.
The club is also working in collaboration with Sunderland City Council to investigate the opportunity to create a district heating system using the mine water from the disused mine on which the Stadium of Light is built.
The initiatives form part of a wider sustainability strategy announced by Sunderland as the club looks to reduce its impact on the environment and support the UK’s low-carbon ambitions.
The plan is in line with the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals and focuses on Sunderland’s role as a football club in the local and regional communities and the impact it can have to support environmental change and energy usage.
Sunderland is aiming to be energy-self-sufficient from renewable sources by 2028, while also providing energy to the National Grid network for the benefit of the wider community.
Also included in the plan is a 40mW solar farm at the Academy of Light, for which the club is preparing a planning application and applying for a grid connection in the near future. More details for this solar farm will be revealed in the near future.
Additionally, Sunderland will aim to harvest rainwater and eliminate single-use plastics, and implement a club-wide transport policy to reduce emissions. Sunderland is hoping to be the first UK football club to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2040, in line with the UN’s Sport for Climate Change initiative.
Sunderland has already commenced a programme to replace all non-LED lights in all buildings, replacing the car park lighting and replacing the floodlights at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare ground, which is used by the club’s women’s and U21 teams.
Steve Davison, chief operating officer at Sunderland, said: “We want to set long-term and bold objectives that enable our club to have a positive impact on our collective ambitions to cut carbon emissions and reduce climate change. We have set out a series of measures, initiatives and programmes that will contribute to a more sustainable future for the club and the environment.”
“We are looking forward to actioning our sustainability plans, working with our partners, supporters, neighbours, local councils and other stakeholders. Football clubs have an important role to play in their communities, which reaches beyond sport, and we hope to take them all with us on this journey with us as we help to tackle climate change.”
In other news, Sunderland has confirmed that away supporters at the Stadium of Light will continue to be situated in the North Stand Upper section of the stadium.
The club has conducted an extensive review to identify the most suitable long-term location for away fans. The review was launched after Sunderland announced in October that it had introduced further measures to enhance fan safety following missile-throwing incidents involving away fans.
Measures included searching all away fans upon entry to the stadium, increasing stewarding capacity in the North Stand and enhancing the CCTV network. Coins and vapes were also banned in the away section.
Sunderland said today (Tuesday) that these measures have had an “extremely positive” impact on away supporter conduct and dramatically reduced the incident rate to ensure it is now in line with other areas of the stadium.
The club has explored the installation of a protective netting and evaluated several “UK and overseas options” but, following the implementation of the aforementioned measures, it was determined that they would not further reduce the risk of missiles due to the items commonly used.