AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, hosts 100 million fans annually at more than 120 stadiums, arenas and other facilities around the world. In an effort to lower its energy use and minimize its environmental impact, the company has installed an innovative, advanced Tesla Powerpack battery/energy storage system at StubHub Center in Carson, CA, home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. GreenSportsBlog spoke with John Marler, AEG’s Senior Director, Energy and Environment Systems, about StubHub Center being the first stadium to have on-site energy storage.
60 cents per kilowatt hour.
According to John Marler, that is the exorbitantly high price for electricity AEG pays Southern California Edison for electricity at StubHub Center, from noon to 6 PM on high demand, hot summer weekdays. The price goes down to as low as 10 cents per kilowatt hour overnight.
StubHub Center, Carson, CA, home of the LA Galaxy. (Photo credit: Stephanie Romero/LA Galaxy)
This price disparity exists for large commercial customers^ because in Southern California, as elsewhere, there is more demand on the electrical grid during peak times than off-peak times. During peak times, the grid also tends to use more carbon-intensive forms of electric power generation, such as from “peaker plants,” which are activated on very hot days to meet demand.
John Marler, AEG’s Senior Director, Energy and Environment Systems. (Photo credit: AEG)
Like other large commercial customers, AEG has a strong incentive to conserve electricity and reduce demand during peak hours. But during game days, stadium lighting, air conditioning, and other loads must be turned on, causing electricity usage to spike.
“AEG has implemented a variety of energy efficiency strategies at StubHub Center over the years,” said Marler. Thing is, until recently, there hasn’t been an ideal way to manage event-related spikes in energy usage.
If StubHub Center could generate* and/or buy electricity during the nighttime hours when it’s cheap (again, only 10 cents per kilowatt hour), store the electrons that were generated or bought and then use them during peak hours, meaningful savings would be the result. And, if a multitude of customers have the same capability, the entire grid could benefit, in that the utility could meet demand more cost-effectively and with more environmentally benign generation resources (i.e. dirty peaker plants might not have to be used.)
Enter the Tesla Powerpack.
In January 2016 StubHub Center installed 20 Tesla Powerpack commercial batteries for the purpose of shifting usage from peak to non-peak periods and to reduce event-related demand spikes, becoming the first stadium to have energy storage on site.
The technology embedded in the batteries used in Tesla electric vehicle (EV) drive trains is similar to the technology in battery systems that power homes, businesses and now stadiums. So, to my eyes, Tesla is much more than an iconic EV maker—which is off-the-charts cool as it is— it is rapidly evolving into a Battery Systems Manufacturer/Energy Storage company.
Tesla PowerPack battery-powered energy storage system, similar to the one installed at StubHub Center. (Photo credit: Tesla)
Tesla broke ground in 2014 on its already-iconic Gigafactory outside of Sparks, NV, to meet not only what it expects to be huge demand for EVs, but also for other advanced battery systems and, energy storage. By the time of its planned completion in 2020, Gigafactory is expected to produce 35 gigawatt hours worth of lithium ion batteries annually, which is more than was produced worldwide in 2013. A great deal of the energy stored on those batteries will have been generated from clean sources, as the roof (Gigaroof?) will be the site of a massive solar installation.
Some Gigafactory production will be devoted to the Tesla Powerpack, which, it says here, will help to power more stadiums than just StubHub Center in upcoming months and years.
The energy storage system also works on non-game days. It interacts directly with the Southern California grid, earning revenue for AEG by providing valuable demand response (a voluntary program that compensates large retail customers for reducing their electricity use during periods of high power prices or when the reliability of the grid is threatened) services to the utility. Thus, the Tesla Powerpack installation is expected to save AEG money, reduce the stadium’s carbon footprint, and contribute to a healthier power grid in Southern California.
AEG’s and the Galaxy’s leadership in on-site energy storage with Tesla Powerpacks is just one example of their green bona fides. Fans and employees are being encouraged to take green actions through the new Protect The Pitch (PTP) initiative, which:
- Supports community and fan-based environmental projects, including a weekly Farmer’s Market at StubHub Center.
- Shares AEG’s/the Galaxy’s best-in-green-class efforts in energy efficiency, waste management and water management at StubHub Center, with the subtext being that fans can take similar actions at home.
- Highlights Galaxy employees’ many green volunteer actions, including tree planting and beach cleanup.
The acronym PTP was initially made famous by legendary ESPN college basketball analyst/screamer Dick Vitale—”He’s a Prime Time Player, a PTPer!!” I think it’s fair to say AEG, StubHub Center and the Galaxy are PTPers in their own right as they shift electricity usage away from prime time.
^ Electricity usage pricing for large-scale commercial customers can vary on an hour-to-hour basis. Pricing for residential customers, whose electricity usage is much smaller, varies monthly, or, in some cases, yearly.
* StubHub Center currently does not have any on-site solar or wind generation at this time but is considering its options in line with its overall energy management and sustainability strategy.
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