In practice: Amsterdam ArenA’s EV battery storage system

Amsterdam ArenA wants to be the most innovative stadium in the world by 2020 and has already utilised numerous sustainability technologies, including the latest installment of old electric vehicles batteries as a storage system, to help with this ambition.

The challenge

Twenty years on from its construction, the Amsterdam ArenA has embedded sustainability technologies to becomes the first “climate neutral stadium in the Netherlands”. The stadium has moved away from gas to source more renewable electricity to power its operations, from cooking to heating, and electricity demand can place extra pressure on the local grid, especially when it operates at full capacity during events like football.

The 54,000-seater stadium sources 10% of its energy from the solar panels on its roof, while the remainder is sourced from its own wind turbines in Oudendijk. But as renewables are intermittent and can only generate during favourable conditions, the stadium also sought a solution that would maximise renewable energy use.

The solution

In November 2016, the Amsterdam ArenA signed a 10-year deal with battery storage providers Eaton and car manufacturers Nissan, to explore and develop ways to integrate energy storage systems onsite.

Eaton and Nissan had previously worked together on the xStorage Building System, which uses Nissan electric vehicle (EV) batteries as part of an energy storage solution. The system allows companies to manage load shifting and demand, maximise consumption of onsite generation – primarily solar energy – and offer money saving opportunities on energy consumption.

Eaton and Nissan will install the xStorage Building System in the football stadium’s car park in early 2018. The system uses 280 Nissan LEAF batteries – in a combination of 85 new and 63 second-life EV battery packs.

The solution presented its own challenges as Eaton and Nissan attempted to install a battery system that could interact with the transformers already built in at the stadium. This increased the need for a fragmented and modular solution which the current system could provide.

The system will enable the Amsterdam ArenA to store its renewable energy until periods of peak demand, to reduce reliance on old diesel generators that feed the local grid. The Mobility House, a technology company, will operate the xStorage Buildings System.

The business benefits

Although current energy consumption levels haven’t been disclosed, the 3MW system will store energy for use during live events, when the stadium’s energy consumption can be 8-10 times higher than normal. Eaton claims that the 3MW system is comparable to the energy needs of a “few thousand homes”.

The system will store energy generated from the 7,000m2 solar array on the stadium’s roof. In total, 4,200 solar panels will interact with the storage system, sending renewable energy to be stored in the EV batteries.

By placing the system in the carpark, it is hoped that EVs can be used to offer additional storage capacity and act as a flexible ‘overflow area’ for electricity.”

Not only does the system allow the stadium to use renewable energy during evening and night time events, but it also drastically reduces the need to source from the grid at periods of high demand, reducing the potential for blackouts in the stadium and the surrounding area.

As the energy can be stored, the Amsterdam ArenA can also share it with the surrounding areas, such as the 17,000-seat multi-use indoor Ziggo Dome. Amsterdam ArenA set up a separate company to oversee the power supply initiative. The Amsterdam Energy Arena will oversee distribution and storage and was one of the first outlets from the stadium’s innovation programme with the city government and private partners.

While not a part of the energy storage initiative, the stadium is lit with LED lighting and the grass on the pitch is maintained with rainwater collected on the stadium roof.

The future

Eaton confirmed that the system can be upscaled if needed and capacity can reach 4MW currently. In fact, both Eaton and Nissan are now members of the aforementioned innovation group – Amsterdam Innovation Arena.

Amsterdam Energy Arena was one of the first results from the innovation programme, which sees companies, governments and knowledge institutions use the arena as an “ultimate living lab” that explores new concepts regarding sustainability, city living and health and wellbeing.

The innovation group is already examining the extra demand that an increase in electric vehicles will have on the grid, and how this will impact the stadium’s own energy resiliency.

The innovation group is split into six programme areas to examine, including circular economy solutions, and four groups meet on a monthly basis to report back on current initiatives and examine future trends and solutions.

Matt Mace

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