A Battery-Powered Soccer Stadium Is Lighting Arsenal F.C. Matches

The Emirates Stadium has installed a new battery.

One of the biggest soccer clubs in the English Premier League now has a battery-powered stadium.

Arsenal Football Club, which currently ranks fifth in the league, announced on Monday that its Emirates Stadium in north London is now home to a two-megawatt lithium-ion battery storage system. The system is large enough to run the entire 60,000-seat stadium for a whole match, and it gives an exciting potential glimpse into the future of energy.

“Arsenal is now the first top flight club with battery storage, allowing it to use cheap renewable energy even at peak times, and reduce the need for diesel backup generators,” Greg Jackson, CEO of the team’s renewable energy partner Octopus Energy, said in a statement. Arsenal announced in August 2017 that its stadium was now fully powered by renewables through its partnership with Jackson’s firm.

A representative for Octopus Energy confirmed to Inverse that the battery would switch on Tuesday. While the next match scheduled at the stadium is Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur on December 2 — a long-standing rivalry — it has not been confirmed whether this match will be fully battery-powered, as the stadium will retain the ability to use a mix of battery and grid power during operations.

The battery offers impressive storage capacity. It’s capable of storing 2.5 megawatt-hours of energy, or the equivalent of using 2.5 megawatts of energy for one hour. Battery developer Pivot Power, which will operate the system for 15 years, claims it’s enough to power 2,700 homes for two hours. The system will work with the National Grid, helping to balance supply and demand in the wider grid.

Batteries could play an integral element of future renewables usage, as they help guarantee a steady stream of power at all times instead of only when the sun is shining or wind blowing. When renewable-heavy South Australia struggled with blackouts, it enlisted Tesla CEO Elon Musk to build a 129-megawatt-hour battery in the state that at the time ranked as the largest lithium-ion project in the world. Vistra Energy announced in June plans to go even further by building a 1,200-megawatt-hour battery in California.

Pivot Power plans to upgrade Arsenal’s system to store three megawatts, or 3.7 megawatt-hours, by next summer. By comparison, the latest Tesla Model 3 uses a 62-kilowatt-hour pack. That means, when complete, the battery will store nearly 60 times as much energy as Elon Musk’s newest car. From there, the company is also working on the rollout of 50 megawatts of grid-scale batteries around the United Kingdom.

Claire Perry, the British government’s minister for energy and clean growth, issued a pun-filled statement to mark Monday’s announcement:

The U.K. is certainly not being left-back on the bench, with Arsenal truly moving the goal-posts when it comes to energy efficiency at Emirates Stadium. This project scores the hat-trick of tackling peak prices and storing clean energy, with the goal of selling back energy to the grid at peak times. A more flexible energy grid could save the U.K. billions and this kind of cutting-edge technology shows companies the potential of being part of the beautiful game of smarter energy systems.

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