Power to the people!

Europe’s largest energy storage system electrifies the Johan Cruijff Arena, By Rob Clymo 

Giant arenas are great places for sporting and entertainment events, but they’re high maintenance. So, any way to generate revenue is always a bonus. Saving money by reducing costs is also high on the list for stadium operators too. Which is why the enormous Johan Cruijff Arena on the outskirts of Amsterdam is embracing new technology to help with the bills by using a nifty new energy storage system. 

The distinctive venue is home to AFC Ajax and also hosts many music events during the course of the year. Ed Sheeran was playing on the day the arena chose to launch its new energy storage system. The innovative idea unveiled last Friday morning currently makes it the largest European energy storage system to use second-life and new electric vehicle batteries to help meet the power needs of the venue. 

After a big red button-pushing launch ceremony we were taken on a tour around the bowels of the building to view the system at work, and also got to see tangible results of the energy being saved on monitor screens. This neat arrangement lets the arena manage its usage by balancing supply against demand. The 3-megawatt storage system is a dependable way of preparing for the peaks and troughs that occur, especially when big events are taking place. 

Getting to this point has been something of a team effort between forward thinkers Nissan, Eaton, BAM, The Mobility House and the arena itself. There are added extras too because this new addition to the energy arsenal is also complimented by 4,200 solar panels on the roof. And, for Nissan, it makes a logical next step. Aside from its latest and well received all-electric LEAF model, the car manufacturer is already very active in this area. 

This, say the engineers at Nissan, has the potential to make the grid more stable and sustainable. It can also help consumers manage their energy supply to better effect, while saving them money along the way. Similarly, the arena scheme aims to use batteries taken from Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric vehicles to produce a ‘circular economy’ that milks every last drop of life from units that have already served their time in cars and vans. 

Alongside Nissan, Eaton has also been central to the arena launch. This is the company that has produced the power conversion units installed at the venue. Another critical part of the process is the management system that does all of the legwork in terms of making sure energy is being used to optimal effect. 

This involves a bespoke rack of hardware, with custom software running inside that, which has been produced by The Mobility House. Engineers were on hand to explain that the system essentially gets on with the job and can make decisions on-the-fly as to how best the energy is managed. Considering the scale of the project, it was pretty impressive to think that the energy needs of this huge arena are basically being managed by a small tower of black boxes nestling in the basement. 

“Thanks to this energy storage system, the stadium will be able to use its own sustainable energy more intelligently and, as Amsterdam Energy Arena, it can trade in the batteries’ available storage capacity,” said Henk van Raan, director of innovation at the venue. “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. This is one of the most sustainable stadiums in the world and leads the way in introducing smart innovations like this unique energy storage system.” 

Sentiments echoed by Francisco Carranza, Managing Director of Nissan Energy. “We are delighted to be part of the Europe’s largest energy storage system developed for a commercial building,” he enthused. “Thanks to the Johan Cruijff Arena we can demonstrate today that re-purposing the batteries of Nissan electric vehicles can contribute to make the whole energy system more efficient and sustainable. We are putting our electric ecosystem at the heart of a sustainable future, transforming the way we drive and also transforming the way we live.”  

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