FREIBURG, GERMANY – In 1991, the longest serving coach in the Bundesliga history and a famous eco-pioneer joined forces for the decennial remodel of Sport Club Freiburg’s stadium. Five years later, solar panels adorned three new stand roofs in the stadium.
The project, by coach Volker Finke and architect Rolf Disch, was the first stadium in Germany to utilize solar power. In 2004, the club expanded its energy production capacity by adding two additional photovoltaic panels.
“When they installed the solar panels, they added VIP boxes and heated the field,” Steffen Ries, an educator at the Innovation Academy, said. “You can pick what you think is most interesting.”
Ries leads lectures on topics like sustainable city planning and environmental education in Freiburg, Germany. Because of his passion for renewable energy and community development, Ries argued the solar power was ‘cooler.’
The panels produce about 250,000 kilowatt-hours per year, covering the majority of the stadium’s energy need. Despite the stadium’s efficiency, the solar generators will soon be powered down.
Schwarzwald Stadion was built in 1940 and no longer meets the Union of European Football Associations guidelines. The field is nearly 15 feet shorter than the UEFA Standard allows for competition games.
A 2012 study found remodeling the stadium to comply with UEFA standards would be unprofitable. In February, citizens of Freiburg voted to build a new stadium in Wolfswinkel.
An avid soccer follower and an urban planner, Ries is conflicted on the plans for the new stadium. “We do not really have the money to do it,” he said. “But we have to.”
The need for the stadium is largely based on traffic jams that occur in Freiburg every game day. With the green city having a population of only 220,000 , the influx of SC fans from France, Austria and Switzerland pressure the transportation system.
To combat the issue, the stadium attempted to encourage the use of public transportation. “They started to give people discounted tickets if they could prove they took public transportation to the game,” Ries said.
In the new stadium, the problem will be averted preemptively. The Freiburg City Council and the club are currently running assessments for car and light rail access.
Local councils will review and decide on the traffic and public transportation plans in 2016. This review was created so that people living around the stadium have more authority over the planning process.
“The citizens are good experts because they know their district best,” Martin Haag, a senior planning officer on the project, told SC Freiburg. “We want to use this expertise and experience.”
While the sun is setting on SC Freiburg’s solar power era, the environmental future of the stadium is still bright. Check out this time lapse of the stadium at sunrise: