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Andrew Gong
Author

Andrew Gong

Andrew Gong is a Research Engineer at Aurora. He previously worked on two Solar Decathlon projects, and he received his M.S. from Stanford and B.S. from Caltech.

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A Solar Design for Baseball Opening Day: The SF Giants’ Ballpark

Andrew GongAndrew Gong

In honor of baseball opening day this week, we decided to model our local baseball stadium—Oracle Park, home of the three-time World Series championship-winning San Francisco Giants, in the latest installment of Aurora’s Solar Landmark series.

In our Solar Landmark series, we use Aurora’s solar design and sales software to design solar installations for notable landmarks around the world—from Buckingham Palace to Independence Hall.

Located just a few blocks from the Aurora office, Oracle Park (recently known as AT&T Park until this year) was straightforward to model using Aurora’s new Draw Roof Face tool. The stadium was opened in 2000, replacing the team’s former, notoriously windy, home at Candlestick Park. With beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, the Giants’ ballpark is a leading tourist attraction in the city.

Although the SF Giants don’t have their home opener for another week, we’re excited to welcome the return of baseball season. Read on to learn how we created a 3D model of Oracle Park in Aurora and created a solar design to match its existing solar arrays.

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Creating a 3D Model of the Giants’ Ballpark in Aurora

When beginning to create our 3D model of the park—which would allow us to determine where solar panels would fit, as well as what areas get the most sunlight—first up were the stadium stands.

We used Aurora’s Draw Roof Face tool, which allows you to draw individual surfaces, providing a simple option to quickly estimate the solar production of a roof face and produce a quick first pass quote to the customer. 

A top-down view of Oracle Park, home of SF Giants baseball, as designed in Aurora solar software.A top-down view of Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, as designed in Aurora solar software.

Modeling these sections was a breeze with the Draw Roof Face tool since it automatically snaps to the LIDAR data for the site. Each of the single “roof” pieces can be manually adjusted if necessary as well. On the curved sections, we created multiple segments to match the curve of the field. You can see the process of creating a section of the stadium stands in the GIF below.

RoofFaceGIFThe process of using Aurora Solar's Draw Roof Face tool to model sections of the stadium stands at Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants.

We also modeled a few prominent features of the park, including the giant Coca-Cola bottle past the left-field bleachers, the field lighting (which was upgraded with LEDs recently, cutting energy consumption by 60%), and the palm trees scattered around the walkways. We also recreated the pitching mound using Aurora’s Draw Tree tool. By creating a sunken tree (setting the tree trunk to a negative height) we were able to create the mound.

The distinctive Coca-Cola bottle at Oracle Park (home of the SF Giants baseball team) recreated using Aurora solar software. The distinctive Coca-Cola bottle at Oracle Park, recreated using Aurora solar software.
 
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Designing the Oracle Park Solar Array

The next step in our process was to add the solar panels. (Normally one would assess the irradiance of the site before deciding where to put panels, but since the stadium has had a PV system installed since 2007, we opted to begin by recreating it.)

Oracle Park’s PV system includes awnings along the waterfront walkway and a larger array above the staircases. High-definition Nearmap imagery captured last year (available through Aurora’s Nearmap integration) clearly shows where they have been installed.

An aerial view of the solar installation at Oracle Park as seen in Nearmap HD imagery. This solar array power's the stadium of the SF Giants baseball team.An aerial view of the solar installation at Oracle Park.

Modeling the arrays in Aurora was simple. The large array above the stairwell can be modeled using the carport tool, the tilted system on the roof can be modeled using the module placement tool. To model the solar awnings, we used a pre-configured carport array.

Here’s how easy it is to replicate awnings or carports with Aurora:

Using Aurora Solar's with its Carport Template tool to create solar awnings at SF Giants baseball stadiumAurora allows users to create carport/ground mount templates, which will use specified arrangements of modules. This tool made it easy to design the solar awnings at Oracle Park.

How Much Sun Do Different Parts of the Stadium Receive?

With all of the buildings and features in place, we ran the irradiance map to see how much solar potential the site has (and how much sun your seats will get over the year). We noticed that the large rooftop arrays receive a lot of sunlight over the year, but some of the awnings lose out on afternoon sun due to shade from the upper deck of the stadium.

An irradiance map or Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants baseball team generated with Aurora Solar software.An irradiance map or Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants baseball team. Aurora Solar software generates the irradiance map using local weather data and simulations of the sun’s path at every daylight hour of the year.
 
Here’s the irradiance map running in real time (about 20 seconds):
Aurora Solar generates an irradiance map for Oracle Park, the stadium of the SF Giants baseball team.Calculating the irradiance at every point of a complicated structure like this stadium requires complex computation. Aurora Solar generates this data in about 20 seconds.

This irradiance information gives some interesting insights for finding your preferred seating options. Seats along the 3rd base line and left field receive the most sunlight over the year, while the 1st base side is much more shaded.

Thanks to the Sun Path tool, we can see that in August the first seats to get shade (at 4 pm) are behind home plate and the back-most seats in all three levels of the right-field side of the stadium. Meanwhile the left-field seats are sun-exposed until about 5 pm and the bleachers don’t get shadows until 6 pm. Of course, you can also use this feature to determine where to place panels in your new installation!

Aurora’s Sun Path tool shows the movement of the sun through the sky at any time throughout the year—and the resulting shadows at your solar project site, as illustrated here.Aurora’s Sun Path tool shows the movement of the sun through the sky at any time throughout the year—and the resulting shadows at your solar project site.

Having determined the irradiance at different parts of the stadium, we were able to use Aurora’s Performance Simulation tool to estimate how much energy it produces in a typical year. Aurora reveals that the system produces about 191,694 kWh per year (191.694 MWh).

Based on that, in the 12 years since the installation, we estimate that the PV system has produced enough energy to offset about 1,000,000 lbs of CO2, based on CA emissions of around 452.5 lbs CO2 per MWh.

And there you have it—the process of designing a solar installation for Oracle Park!

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Do you have other favorite landmarks you’d like to see solar designs for? Let us know in the comments below!

Andrew Gong
Author

Andrew Gong

Andrew Gong is a Research Engineer at Aurora. He previously worked on two Solar Decathlon projects, and he received his M.S. from Stanford and B.S. from Caltech.

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