in Jackson, New Jersey is no longer just a hotspot for summer fun for the whole family – it is now one of the world’s first -powered theme parks. Earlier this month, an enormous  containing 60,000 solar panels spanning across 40 acres of previously unused land and parking spaces was unveiled. This $70 milliondollar investment is anticipated to provide nearly 98% of the power required to keep the theme park up and running. 

After 16 long months, over 99,000 hours of labor for the installations alone, and nearly ten years of planning and brainstorming, this mammoth solar project is finally complete. The solar project has a 23.5-megawatt capacity that will power all 53 rides in the amusement park, as well as the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park. 

In addition to the typical growing pains one might expect with a solar project of this size, some groups were against the idea of constructing this particular solar farm in the first place. 

Environmental Concerns 

When Six Flags initially set out to construct a solar farm that would generate enough power to operate their entire theme park, it was estimated that nearly 100 acres of unused land would be needed. This immediately led to outcries from environmental groups and activists due to the alteration of the landscape, as well as the impact of cutting down 100 acres of trees.  

By the time construction began on the solar farm in early 2018, a compromise had been reached. Instead of the initial 100 acres, Six Flags agreed to only cut down 40 acres of trees to accommodate the solar panels. The rest of the solar panels needed for the project were spread out across various employee and overflow parking lots. 

Financial Savings and Reduced Emissions 

In order to make this solar project come to life, Six Flags teamed up with a solar development and construction company known as KDC Solar. According to KDC Solar President, Alan Epstein, the solar farm could save Six Flags a considerable amount of money per year. In total, the theme park uses 30 million kilowatts of per year. Epstein stated that even if Six Flags were to only save a mere penny per hour on their energy costs, the total savings will still be substantial. 

Financial costs are not the only thing that these solar panels will help reduce. The solar panels are expected to offset around 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is equivalent to the same emissions given off by 53 million miles driven by vehicles. 

Other Theme Parks Going Solar 

Six Flags is not the first theme park to commit to production and usage. In fact, Disney Epcot Theme Park in Bay Lake, Florida received a Mickey Mouse-shaped solar panel array in 2016. The Disney World Resort then installed a gargantuan solar farm with a 50-megawatt capacity and more than 500,000 solar panels in total. Size is not the only thing that sets that Mickey Mouse-shaped solar panels apart from the Disney World Resort solar site. While Mickey Mouse solar panels remain stationary, the Disney World Resort solar panels have the ability to rotate with the sun, ultimately optimizing their solar energy gain and output. Under the best weather conditions, this rotating solar farm can generate up to 25% of the power needed to run the theme park. 

New Jersey’s Carbon-Neutral Goals 

If there is anyone in particular that has reason to be excited about the new Six Flags solar project addition, it is state Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy has campaigned for New Jersey to meet 100% of its power needs from renewable resources by 2050. This goal was made official in May of last year after Murphy signed Executive Order 28. Just this month, a more official blueprint for how this plan will be achieved was released by the Board of Public Utilities.  

The switch to solar energy for Six Flags is good news for both New Jersey and other surrounding states. If every theme park in the United States were able to run solely or at least partially on solar energy, our time spent on rollercoasters may actually help save the environment.  

Resources: 

https://www.inquirer.com/science/great-adventure-solar-rides-new-jersey-20190612.html 

https://www.nj.com/news/2019/06/six-flags-is-now-one-of-worlds-1st-solar-powered-theme-parks-more-clean-energy-is-on-the-way.html 

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-disney-solar-farm-20190418-story.html 

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