Environmental groups oppose Six Flags Great Adventure solar farm

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Two New Jersey environmental groups have come out against Six Flags Great Adventure's plans to cut down 18,000 trees for a 90-acre solar farm. In addition, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection says the agency doesn't support the project, but acknowledges it has limited jurisdiction over the site.

Read more from The Asbury Park Press.

I understand the concern here... That's a lot of trees. And yes they said they would replace those trees and then some, but 30-40 years is a long time for maturation and no where does it say these 25,000 new trees would be planted together to create a 90+ acre forest (Hundred Acre Wood?)... If they had a plot of land to replant these trees all in the same area why not just use that space for the solar farm and leave the established forest alone? And furthermore, why exactly is it not feasible to build over the parking lot (aside from it wouldn't allow for parking lot coasters to be added in the future)? Don't get me wrong, I applaud Six Flags for looking to use a sustainable, clean energy source. Just curious as to why they can't (or won't?) take that extra step to keep it green as well.

But then again, what do I know?

Raven-Phile's avatar

"What do we want? Clean energy!"

"When do we want it? Cut down some trees to reduce your dependence on coal, ARE YOU NUTS?"

Oh no Raven that's not what I meant at all... If given the option between Six Flags' plan or nothing I'd choose what Six Flags is doing.

But look at it this way... Reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions is only half the battle here. We also need to reduce the amount of CO2 already dumped into the atmosphere. What's a pretty simple way to do that? Well, plants use Carbon Dioxide and convert it to Oxygen. So continued deforestation doesn't help with the reduction of CO2 already in the atmosphere.

Again, I applaud SF for taking a step in the right direction. Just curious why they didn't take the next step along with it.

Last edited by ShaneDenmark,

But then again, what do I know?

Raven-Phile's avatar

Oh, I wasn't replying to you - just to the article in general. I mean, I agree with you in general. I just love when groups are so amped up for one cause that they can't see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

This is a good thing for Great Adventure - in the long run it's going to majorly reduce their dependence on coal and nuclear, but sometimes you have to take a step backward in oder to take 2 forward.

Maybe that wood will be used to build shelters and habitats for animals somewhere, or habitat for humanity houses, or something like that - it sucks to lose that much forest, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not so terrible given the resulting payoff.

Jeff's avatar

Interestingly enough, I saw news the other day about a recent study that suggests that net green space on the earth is actually up in the last few decades, but only slightly because the deforestation in South America is still pretty brutal. It continues to improve in North America. It seems like most commercial and residential development emphasizes planting trees as part of the design these days.

And still, I assume someone here did the math. Does the solar farm cut down more in CO2 emissions in any given year than the trees absorbed? This source says producing 1 kWh of electricity produces 1.341 pounds of CO2. It also says one tree can suck down 911 pounds of CO2 over the course of 55 years. My house uses as much as 1,400 kWh of electricity per month in the summer (700 in winter), so that's 1,877 pounds of CO2 per month at its peek. I would need two trees hanging out for 55 years to offset that!

So I'm thinking if this facility generates 21.9 megawatts, that's something like 32 million kWh generated annually, which would generate about 43 million pounds of CO2 through fossil fuel generated energy. It would take 47,000 trees 55 years to absorb just one year of CO2 generated in that case.

Sorry, the solar farm wins. It's not even close.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Tekwardo's avatar

I see why they can't or won't build over the parking lot. There are a lot of reasons. The least of which is logistics on building a solar farm on top of parkmg that would need to be out of commission during construction.

And as much as it sucks losing trees, really, what is more important? Cutting down a renewable resource and renewing it or continuing to use fossil fuels?

I'm for solar.

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You don't have to do the whole thing at once. I've watched them install solar installations at the university I work at. They are built either on the tops of parking structures or on parking lots. Everything is prefabed, and they do it in sections, so there is minimal disruption to the facility. The Department of Environmental Protection may have little control over where they put it, but the dept that issues building permits may have some say in the matter.

Tommytheduck's avatar

Honestly, I think the biggest reason would be all of the posts needed to support it. The odds of posts being hit by drivers has to be very high, whether they build smaller, lower platforms, (think carports) or much larger, higher, concrete structures. You see the way some of these idiots drive in theme parks. Every time someone backs out of their space and into a pole, there's going to be the potential for structural damage. Especially given the weight of the solar equipment supported by the poles, if it's going to be the kind that rotates on two axes. Not to mention the frivolous lawsuits that will come from every time said idiot hits a pole that "isn't supposed to be there."

I suspect drainage would be another issue. The cascades of water pouring off the roofs during heavy rains cannot be safe.

Sure would be nice to have covered parking in the summer though, wouldn't it?

ApolloAndy's avatar

I bet having all your solar equipment covered in snow 15' off the ground is a much bigger pain in the butt than having it covered 2' off the ground. I don't know how much they plan to run it in winter, but I bet the answer is greater than zero.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Tommytheduck's avatar

If nothing else, I'm sure there are a few pennies to be made by selling the power generated in winter.

Great Adventure is a pretty run-down park overall. One of the things that makes it nicer is all of the trees. They have already removed a good number of trees in the area where Chiller was. I wonder where the trees that will be removed are?

This is a good argument. Solar power is wonderful, but the loss of trees is not.

Jeff's avatar

Like I said, I don't think you can make that generalization, given the math above. This isn't something that's going to happen in the park itself. I doubt most people will know it's even there.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Jeff is right, math doesn't lie. As long as his "given values" are correct, solar farm trumps 90 acre forest in the green debate.

But then again, what do I know?

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Yes and if we build enough solar farms, we can cut down all the trees!

I mean, the math is there, right?


I'm being facetious.

Raven-Phile's avatar

Wait. I want to take my vote away now that I read you were being facetious.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'll give you one back. We're even.

rollergator's avatar

Won't somebody think of the saplings!

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Don't listen to the press releases.

The only reason they are doling this is to clear a bigger area for Season Pass Processing.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

It is easy to say "why don't they just put them in the parking lot". The answer is, if they forced the developer to add in all those costs for the structures, the developer might walk away from the project. You see in reality, six flags will neither own nor operate the solar panels, as Six flags is not putting any capital expenditure into this. They are simply leasing the land and involved in a net metering agreement. Everyone gets angry or happy about how "green" or "not green" they are being. Really Six Flags is just in it for the warm fuzzy feelings and marketing image. (Worked brilliantly so far)

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