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Six Flags embraces solar power
Between the massive coasters, gazillions of lights, HVAC systems, and other kilowatt-craving needs, amusement parks require a lot of energy. With its third solar farm expected to go online soon, Six Flags is making impressive inroads to turn its scream-filled midways green.
One of its marquee parks, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, will soon be starting construction on a solar carport that will cover its sprawling guest parking lot with solar collection panels. When completed later this year or in early 2024, the 12-megawatt array will store and generate enough energy to power all 20 of its coasters (which is more thrill machines than any other park in the world)–and everything else in the huge complex. According to the park chain, it will be the world’s largest single-site renewable energy project designed for a for-profit company.
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The solar canopy is designed to produce a daily output of 7,900 kilowatt hours, or 20.8 million kilowatt hours of energy annually, which will be enough to offset 100% of the park’s power usage. In addition, it will provide welcome shade for guests’ cars.
The company has also installed solar systems at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in the northern part of California as well as at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Completed in 2019, the Great Adventure project includes both solar carports and ground-mounted solar panels. That park is almost completely powered by solar energy.
When its third system is operational at Magic Mountain, Six Flags says it will be generating a combined total of 42.37 megawatts at the three parks. That will give the company bragging rights as the U.S. organization with the largest volume of onsite solar power.
I’m all for renewable energy, and I applaud Six Flags for its impressive solar projects as well as its larger commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment. However, I wish the company would pay as much attention to its core mission. For example, it could improve operations (getting all of the rides functioning and online, opening more eateries, and rolling out more than one train on all coasters would be a good start). Significantly, Six Flags should also be investing more capital in major new rides and attractions–something it used to do regularly but has largely abandoned more recently. Things have been a bit wobbly at the parks under the current regime, and the company’s attendance and revenue declines have been alarming.
In addition to the admirable carbon offsets that Six Flags will realize with its solar initiatives, perhaps it will also save the park chain a lot of money on its utility bills; money that could then be used to build some kickass coasters. That’s one of the ways it could help achieve sustainability–of its parks.
What are your thought about Six Flags’ solar projects? Have you visited a Six Flags park this season? If so, what was your experience like?