Stroud-based football club, Forest Green Rovers, has become the first football ground in the UK to install a solar array on its stadium.

The installation of a 46.92kW Photovoltaic system onto a terrace roof of Forest Green Rovers FC is helping the club reduce its carbon footprint.

The Mitsubishi array is the first of hopefully many green energy projects being undertaken by Sustainability in Sport, an organisation set up by former Manchester United captain, Gary Neville. Sustainability in Sport aims to work with commercial organisations in order to raise funds that would enable investment in renewable technologies.

The solar array was completed in just four days by Hemel Hempstead-based Beba Energy. The 184 panels are predicted to produce around 39,400kWh of clean, green electricity every year, saving over 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted in the process. The historic football club will also benefit from half of the income generated from the feed-in tariff, with the other half going to Sustainability in Sport.

Dale Vince said: “Sustainability in Sport was created to inspire change within the sports community and to urgently address the significant environmental impact of sport. We’re here to change the rules of the game – putting Sustainability into the heart of Sport.

“Sport has a large and passionate audience that we can engage with through Sustainability in Sport and our work at Forest Green Rovers.  This first project will put solar panels in plain sight of football fans – it's not just about making green electricity and saving carbon emissions (important as they are) – it's about stimulating thought and debate, showcasing new technology and new ways of doing things.”

The club’s primary sponsor, Ecotricity, has been involved with Forest Green Rovers since August 2010 after rescuing it from a precarious financial position. The green energy supplier has since been using the football club as a platform to push its green message and the practice of sustainable business. The football club already recycles rainwater for pitch irrigation and is working hard to achieve the Soil association’s Organic Mark for the club’s playing surface. Last autumn, the football club took all red meat off its menu and intends to gradually move to vegetarian and eventually vegan menus.  

“We have come a long way in making Forest Green Rovers a more sustainable football club and are using this as a test bed to what can be achieved with sport in the community,” added Dale Vince.

The solar panels will be used to power the club’s floodlights and maintenance equipment such as electric mowers and strimmers to reduce emissions at the club even further, producing as much as 25 percent of the club’s electricity.