Unpredictable Power Outages

Unpredictable Power Outages in Today’s Sports World

‘The Super Bowl’ is an annual event many football fans look forward to, often referred to as the biggest sporting event of the year. After a half-time show that featured extravagant lighting and video effects, an “abnormality” in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown causing a power outage in the 73,000-seat building.

Now formally known as the “Blackout Bowl,” the football game experienced a stadium-wide power outage that caused a 34-minute delay, leaving millions of TV viewers in the dark. Power outages in monumental sporting events aren’t uncommon either. A World Cup game between Argentina and Brazil was forced to be called off due to a power grid failure, leaving over 25,000 fans disappointed and sent home.

Effect of Power Outages in Sports

Sporting events require huge energy demands to power lights, stadium features, food and drink booths, billboards and more. However, a power grid collapse can cause a chain reaction of problems for all parties involved. The Super Bowl’s’s rating fell below the two previous years’ finals. Advertisers did not see returns on their 60-second ads, which companies often pay upwards of $10 million dollars. Paid spectators were also frustrated when escalators and credit-card machines stopped working for the remainder of the game, negatively affecting both the organizers and fans.

In a sports management study, it was found that 80 percent of fans have eaten at least a hot dog at a sporting event in the last year, which contribute to other ballpark staples to make up two-thirds of concession stand revenues. This combined with sports arenas having a profit margin of up to 90 percent on drinks shows the potential of lost revenue in the event of a power grid failure. To reiterate the economic impact the sports event industry has, as of 2019, the average Canadian sports fan spent $760 per year during these games. The canceled World Cup match between Argentina and Brazil was an example of lost revenues when Japan missed out on added revenue opportunities through ticket sales, food, beverage, and more – reducing the country’s profit margin.

The Movement Towards Renewable Energy

Currently, most sports arenas use diesel engines as their main energy source which are often found in automobiles, light trucks, and some construction applications. However, diesel engines are vulnerable to power outages and as fuel prices continue to increase, the cost to purchase and maintain diesel engines becomes more expensive on top of being a major pollutant by emitting particulate matter from soot. 

Renewable energy is a cleaner alternative to reducing carbon emissions, and with prices for Solar PV energy decreasing, it is a competitive alternative to conventional sources. Implementing a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) alongside a Solar energy source can help optimize its energy expenditure.

Vienna Zhou, CEO of battery energy storage company TROES Corp, says “With the COVID-19 Pandemic dwindling down and sports arenas reopening doors for fans, energy storage is the future to create greater reliability in the sports-entertainment business. Not only will this reduce the risk of power outages but also help sports teams push an eco-friendly movement.”

This more competitive alternative is beginning to see mainstream sports attention as AFC Ajax, a Dutch Football club, implemented a battery energy storage system into their stadium in 2018. Henk van Raanu, director of innovation at AFC Ajax expressed his delight with the inclusion of a BESS system: “[the] arena is assured of a considerable amount of power, even during an outage […] [as] a result, the stadium will contribute to a stable Dutch energy grid.”

The transition into battery energy storage is impactful due to the ability to charge the batteries using renewable sources like solar, hydro, and wind, and discharging the batteries when electricity is most needed, notably during a sporting game. Energy Storage can provide peak-shaving to lower costs and provide sustainable energy throughout the day, and enables the ability to provide backup power in the case of a power outage. Unlike other backup storage, such as a diesel generator, a BESS can power up instantly – a crucial feature for any sports area that needs continuous power at a moment’s notice.

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