The Super Bowl is among the largest sporting spectacles in the world as well as the largest television event in the United States (111 million viewers in 2012). On 3 February 2013, Super Bowl XLVII claimed its place in history, not because of the Baltimore Ravens narrow 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers or Beyoncé’s half time show, but because of a power surge at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana that caused a blackout stopping the game for 34 minutes during the second half. A joint statement from Entergy, the power provider to the stadium, and SMG, the Superdome operator, has shed some light on the partial power failure:
“[…] a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system. Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue. Backup generators kicked in immediately as designed. Entergy and SMG subsequently coordinated start up procedures, ensuring that full power was safely restored to the Superdome.”
The Super Bowl was not the only sporting event to experience electrical issues this weekend. The English Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United on 2 February 2013 experienced a 15 minute delay during the first half when a suspected faulty fuse caused a blackout at the 117 year old Craven Cottage football stadium in central London.
The interruption of two major sporting events during the 48 hour period highlights the complexity associated with managing energy within large entertainment venues. They are a distinct energy domain, with its own operational requirements based on specific energy-related equipment, business processes and governance, and distinct from other domains such as an office building or a retail store. In particular a large entertainment venue requires energy systems integration between the existing public grid and what can be thought of as the venues’ private grid infrastructure. The venues’ private grid infrastructure must provide power continuity to the lighting, display and heating equipment, whilst the connection to the existing public grid infrastructure must be able to support the infrequent, yet significant, power loads experienced during an event. The potential to integrate and manage other power generation assets such as emergency back-up generators and rooftop solar PV panels, along with other energy domains such as restaurants, hotels and retail outlets adds a further level of complexity.
Sport stadium owners and operators will need to re-evaluate their energy management systems. Wembley National Stadium, the home of the England national football team, engaged with Honeywell to implement a network for all technical services (HVAC, security, access control, public announcement, safety and video) during the construction of the 90,000 seat, £757 million ($1,195 million) football stadium in London. It is the largest ever system integration project in the UK and provides a centralized network for the capture and management of data from disparate control systems optimizing the entire network and providing greater efficiency. Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, has partnered with NRG to become the supplier of energy to the stadium and install more than 11,000 solar panels and 14 micro wind turbines. As the level of integration within major infrastructure projects like Wembley National Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field increases, efficiency savings can be realised, while making sure there is sufficient redundancy within the system to deal with unexpected power outages without impacting critical assets and safety systems.