Sporting Clean Energy

There is an increasing interest in the growing markets of renewable energies and new technologies, but with this also comes substantial competition. According to Wikipedia in 2008, about 19% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, and photovoltaic production has been increasing by an average of 20% each year since 2002, making it a fast-growing energy technology. Producing photovoltaic modules is a popular industry and dominated by the number one producer Yingli Green Energy in China.

President Obama mentioned China’s rise as a cleantech power in his State of the Union speech, but he failed to mention the development of the Chinese photovoltaic module maker that is the number one supplier of solar panels to the California market. Most recently the company has made a huge deal, and became an “Official Premium Partner” of FC Bayern München, one of Germany’s most famous soccer teams. Now Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, has teamed up with one of the countries biggest overseas competitors in Yingli.

In return for its sponsorship, Yingli said it has been “granted a series of marketing rights, including ticketing and hospitality, advertising and media/public relations as well as the right to market and sell its solar products in the official FCB fan shops.” This means that soccer fans will be able to pick up their favorite player’s jersey, a pennant, and a solar panel at a game.

“It truly marks a historical moment in FC Bayern’s history to have a leading renewable energy company to become our Official Premium Partner,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the FC Bayern München’s executive board, said in a statement. “We also look forward to utilizing Yingli Solar’s expertise in the renewable energy area to see how we could make FC Bayern greener.” The Chinese company also was a sponsor of last year’s World Cup, where their banners were seen by a worldwide television audience. In the United States, Yingli struck a deal with the New York Jets to install solar panels on the football team’s headquarters and training center as well.

In Obama’s State of the Union Address he mentioned that there will be 1,000,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2015, and 80% of America’s electricity will be from clean energy by the year 2035. If that’s the case, hopefully more American renewable energy companies will be able to pair up with leaders of different industries. The sporting industry is a great way to spread the message as well; since there are year round games and thousands of fans are packed into a stadium at a given time.

One way the music industry does a good job of promoting green initiatives is through their tours. The All At Once non-profit run by Jack Johnson did many things beneficial to communities and the environment (more info found here). There were two main reasons this was so successful:

  1. There were mass amounts of people in a given area for a certain amount of time. This makes it easier to get your message across, and your target audience is right in front of you.
  2. There were numerous incentives that drew interest to the target audience. People who stopped by the All At Once booths entered for a chance to sit on stage for a concert, and win other autographed memorabilia.

The bottom line is that in order to spread the word for such a growing industry, there must be a pre-set, large audience of interest, and some type of incentive or reward should be offered (maybe court side seats at an NBA game). FC Bayern München was smart to take a step forward to promote renewables, an industry with room for a lot of growth. Hopefully these partnerships can transfer into many other sports like the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, among others. Maybe at the next Milwaukee Bucks game I might be able to purchase carbon offsets, a solar powered cell phone charger, and a slick Brandon Jennings jersey. Only time will tell, but hopefully there is a domino effect after FC Bayern München’s partnership with the sporting industry.

(Many of the ideas were taken from Grist’s article “Chinese solar company scores with German soccer team sponsorship.” The article can be found here – link)

About Zak Suhar

Googler. Mount Union graduate. Outdoor enthusiast. Perspective and jumping photographer. Entrepreneurial mind-setter. Green Bay Packer and Wisconsin sports fan.
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