Green Energy often requires a lot of space, whether it's harnessing the wind or capturing the sun. But Six Flags Magic Mountain will be using its existing parking lots for the largest single-site commercial renewable energy project in California.
"In a perfect world, we would have all of our parks running off of energy consumption with solar power, and that's the way we want to keep moving forward," said Alexandria French, a manager with communications and advertising at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Partnering with Solar Optimum and DSD Renewables, Six Flags Magic Mountain broke ground this month on a solar carport and energy storage system which will offset 100% of the park's energy use.
It's not just that this project is going to create enough electricity to power 2,800 homes by putting solar panels over this parking lot, the project is also going to create a lot of shade.
"When you're blocking the sunlight from the cars, you're increasing the lifespan of that paint job. You're not walking into a 130-degree car. You're overall mitigating the heat retention of the ground so at night it's a lot cooler," said Ara Krikorian, executive VP of commercial at Solar Optimum.
Plus, there's the benefit of using land already developed. Research shows that only 2.5% of solar power comes from urban areas across the U.S. since most utility scale solar facilities are in deserts.
Kieren Rudge authored a study for the Yale School of the Environment that found more solar carports could also diversify the grid, making it more reliable when under stress.
"Since these are coming up in different pockets throughout a city or throughout a state, that is better for grid resilience during extreme weather events as opposed to if all the energy is coming out of one very centralized location." said Rudge, who gas a Master of Environmental Science degree at the Yale School of the Environment.
Because of its size and a battery storage system with two megawatts of power, planning and permitting took almost six years before construction began at Six Flags, and even that time line was only possible because of collaboration with the L.A. County.
"This will serve as a blueprint. The county has had to navigate with them to figure out how we permit something like this, and I'm happy to say it's been an incredible experience not only for county staff but for Magic Mountain," said L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
This project should be completed in the spring of next year, and Six Flags hopes other business owners will see it's good for the environment, but also good for business.
"If we're able to put this project together and say 'We've done it, now let us help you do it,' all we're doing is paving that ground for the next company to take the next steps into bettering the environment and moving forward with what we know is going to be a very interesting future," said French.