Modular power technology brings great benefits for global sporting events, especially where local grid capacity and infrastructure are unreliable – but planning is key to success, notes David de Behr

Events are getting bigger and, as a result, energy capacity demand is not only growing, but becoming an increasingly vital component of event planning and management. At the same time, purse strings are tightening, so improving efficiency and cutting costs are also of paramount importance and finding a balance between these needs is key to operating a successful event.

Sporting organizations and event organizers are becoming as competitive off-field as they are on, and adopting a tailored, fit-for-purpose energy strategy could give them the edge. There has been significant investment in energy strategies across the events industry in recent years, and typically we see that investment across three key areas: reliability, efficiency and sustainability.

The events industry relies on maximizing event-day ticket sales; however, this can only be achieved by meeting rising spectator expectations – larger screens, faster wi-fi connections, brighter lighting and, more recently, the convenience of electronic ticketing, making energy reliability a key component to creating visitor satisfaction and revenue. Similarly, with global sport broadcasting rights alone worth approximately $24 billion and growing, unreliable broadcast power can have far-reaching consequences. Advertising and merchandise sales could suffer and organizers could struggle long-term to rebuild the reputational damage caused.

Anticipating any potential loss of power and preparing for unplanned disruptions is crucial. A major focus of our strategic preparation with event organizers is therefore spent on contingency planning to safeguard reputation and potential revenue generation. When we plan an event, we mitigate risk and create flexibility in the way we deliver power. The earlier we get involved in the planning process, the easier it is to identify potential issues and create solutions and possible savings. For the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, for example, we integrated our backup power system with an uninterruptable power supply system (UPS), which ensured an instantaneous and seamless transition to the backup system were a failure to occur in the power supplied by the local grid.

The Beijing Olympics Credit: Aggreko

Grid-connected energy can be advantageous for an event organizer, particularly if the host expects to stage an event repeatedly over several years. Temporary electrical event distribution can then be designed to maximize the use of the grid but with maximum flexibility to handle changes from end users.

Modern, modular power technology, however, also brings great benefits and is a viable alternative, especially where local grid capacity and infrastructure is unreliable.

Mobile power provides the flexibility and scalability that enables organizers to adapt to the environment and changing energy needs, particularly where an event is held over several weeks – like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics. We can just as easily install larger, standalone units as synchronize smaller units together. This flexibility allows event organizers to easily tailor their energy use to suit the conditions, locations and load requirements, thus reducing the impact of uneconomical redundancy, as well as improving efficiency and reducing an event’s carbon footprint.

No two events are the same, and they often come with their own set of challenges. Whether it’s limited square footage or stringent environmental and noise regulations, bespoke solutions need to be considered at the planning stage. For example, when we provided temporary power to the 2012 London Olympic Games, we staged equipment on two barges on the River Lea adjacent to the main stadium, each holding four 1250 kVA generators and four 3000-litre fuel tanks. This was designed to creatively remove the space problem around the stadium and to help the event reach specific environmental targets.

As events evolve and are charged with meeting growing expectations, the value of a reliable, efficient and flexible power source is clear. Planning ahead for any eventuality is vital, and organizers must recognize the need to involve their energy partner early in the planning process to mitigate oversizing their energy needs and the risk of disruptions.


David de Behr is Global Head of Events at Aggreko www.aggreko.com

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