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Baseball's big hit may be wind, solar

Image of wind turbine
Workers attach a wind turbine to the top of the southeast corner of Progressive Field, home of baseball's Cleveland Indians, in Cleveland on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. The Indians are the first major league team to install a wind turbine.Amy Sancetta / AP

Move over steroids, Major League Baseball is getting more power the natural way.

Solar panels and wind turbines are popping up at ballparks across the country as part of a bid to make it easier for fans to embrace renewable energy on and off the field.

Most systems will provide between 30,000 and 40,000 kilowatt hours of electricity on an annual basis, enough to power the retail stores at Busch Stadium, for example, where the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals play.

The team noted that the 106 panels that were installed on a ticket booth and a concession canopy will amount to a “modest” energy savings and should “serve as an educational tool for renewable energy.”

Same goes for Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, where a 168-solar panel system was installed this year that will feed about 40,000 kilowatt hours into the stadium’s grid. Monitors inside the ballpark allow fans to track the amount of power generated.

"By making fans aware of how solar energy generation, even in places like Seattle, can make a difference for any site, perhaps more people will consider adopting solar power for their own energy needs," Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, which installed the system, said in a statement.

The Kansas City Royals, too, are showing off a shiny new solar array with the ability to produce approximately 36,000 kilowatt hours each year.

Solar panels are old news for Cleveland Indians fans. Progressive Field has had them since 2007. New this year is a prototype of a helix-shaped wind turbine designed by Cleveland State University professor Majid Rashidi.

The turbine will be installed for a year of testing, and is expected to generate 40,000 kilowatt hours. CNET has more details:

The wind turbine uses five off-the-shelf small wind turbines placed inside the grooves of the corkscrew. It's the helix shape, made of hard plastic, that boosts the power, Rashidi explained. "Because you are creating an obstacle, you are directly funneling more wind into each turbine with the structure," he said.

While all this green energy tinkering at a ballpark near you might seem a tad gimmicky, consider this: baseball was the first sport to break the color barrier and the first to broadcast live games on TV

--Via Scientific American

John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.