Both consumers and organisations are struggling with the challenges of working and living in an energy-efficient or even energy-neutral way. The Netherlands still needs to take some big steps. In terms of innovative solutions, Amsterdam ArenA is leading the way, according to Wilco Leenslag and Lieke Mulder.
We know how to generate sustainable energy, but there’s a problem. Sustainable energy depends, among other factors, on the weather (the sun and the wind). Often it’s being generated when it’s not being used and vice versa. Therefore we need to store energy and preferably locally because, as a consumer, you don’t only pay for the energy you use but also for the network which transports the energy to your home. Also, depending on the distance it has to travel, 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the energy is lost during transport. Which isn’t very sustainable.
Instead of investing billions of euros in expanding the current energy network, it would be smarter to invest in local energy storage, for example in batteries and chemical, electrical, thermal and mechanical storage. For example, Nuon is transforming its Eemshaven gas plant into a ‘super battery’ which converts surplus solar and wind energy into liquid ammonia. The ammonia is then used as a fuel allowing the plant to supply gas without any CO2 emissions. This is then used to supplement solar and wind energy shortages, while temporary surpluses are stored for later use.
The Nuon initiative is an example of large-scale energy storage. But major strides can also be taken in the case of local, and therefore small-scale, energy storage. This is exactly what Amsterdam ArenA is trying to do. For some time now, as one of the frontrunners in the transition to sustainability, Amsterdam ArenA has been developing ways to generate, use and store sustainable energy. Amsterdam ArenA’s objective is to generate more energy than it uses, so it can supply energy to its neighbourhood. Which would have been convenient on 22 June, for example, for the 25,000 households and businesses in the south-east of Amsterdam and Diemen which were without power for days due to a power failure.
Based on its ambition to generate more energy than it uses, Amsterdam ArenA is currently investing in energy-storage facilities. For example, on a regular day, Amsterdam ArenA uses only 10 per cent of the energy it requires for events. Ideally it could save energy throughout the week, to be used for its peak requirements during events.
At present, to accommodate such peaks, Amsterdam ArenA has to use power plants that generate energy from fossil fuels. However, in 2017, Amsterdam ArenA wants to start using a battery that will be able to supply the stadium with 1.5 hours of emergency power in the event of a power failure. By 2020 the battery has to ensure that Amsterdam ArenA no longer needs energy from fossil fuels.
Storing energy when events aren’t ongoing isn’t the only way in which Amsterdam ArenA wants to obtain energy. The battery’s capacity can also be enlarged using the batteries of electric cars parked at Amsterdam ArenA. In return the visitor could receive free entry to an event.
This innovation that Amsterdam ArenA is currently working on is a great inspiration to parties such as housing associations and municipalities. They are facing the same challenge as Amsterdam ArenA: how can we store energy locally? So they can follow in ArenA’s footsteps.
Author: Wilco Leenslag, manager KPMG