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Guest Blog: Tim Benson, Chair of Powerful Thinking on Decarbonising Event Power

Two decades after the introduction of hybrid solutions to the events market, this panel hosted by Powerful Thinking’s Chair Tim Benson, explores solutions for decarbonising event power, from HVO and solar, to how battery solutions are deployed across the live sector. Programmed in association with Powerful Thinking, and hosted by chair Tim Benson, the panel features contributions from Arena Group and Power Logistics with recent case studies. In this guest blog Tim Benson sets the scene for the discussion on batteries.

For almost two decades now, battery systems, in some shape or form, have become a familiar fixture across event sites globally. For the most part, their role in the energy mix has been to support base loads in a hybrid configuration, i.e. they trickle charge from a generator at times of high load and then auto-stop this unit when the demand drops and provide autonomous, emissions free power for periods of lower load. The business case for this kind of deployment is robust – reduce generator runtimes by up to 75% and use the monetised fuel savings to offset the hire costs of the battery system, something particularly pertinent now with white diesel and HVO being so costly.

Increasingly, we are seeing this hybrid technology being integrated into more general site infrastructure too, for example welfare cabins and tower lights. These units often come with small solar arrays, which further helps reduce engine runtimes. Furthermore, advocates of hydrogen fuel cells (HFCs) and temporary event solar know all too well that, without battery storage, their technologies are a non-starter, as the energy they produce needs to be stored somewhere until demand ramps up.

From a sustainability perspective, battery systems can be seen to provide silent running and emissions free power, especially when charged from a 100% renewable source like solar or when they are integrated with generators that run on 100% biofuel or hydrogen. However, a large question mark does still exist over the use of lithium as the prevalent battery chemistry, particularly in respect of its sourcing and the recycling of the full battery product.

New larger scale battery systems are becoming increasingly available, with energy storage capacities of +300kWh and AC outputs capable of delivering 300kW. These units can be integrated with both mains and generators and used to augment these supplies where demand exceeds their capabilities, a process known as peak shaving. However, their weekly hire rates, often over £3,500.00, make their deployment cost prohibitive for many event organisers, as the duration of a typical event hire simply is not long enough to see a return on investment. It is no wonder then, that many of the companies hiring out these units have decided to focus more on the construction and infrastructure markets, where unit deployments are of a sufficient period to recoup these hire costs. Nevertheless, it remains crystal clear that, whether you are pro-battery or not, energy storage systems have a pivotal role to play in decarbonising temporary event power. At this year’s Showman’s Show, Vision2025 will again be hosting their Sustainable Event Summit (18th October) and Powerful Thinking will be curating a panel featuring key players from Arena Group and Power Logistics, who will share some of the innovative work they have recently undertaken to realise fuel and emissions savings.

Follow Tim Benson on Linkedin.

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This article originally appeared in our October 2023 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.