Greening Green Park for the Platinum Jubilee

In his guest blog, Chair of Powerful Thinking, Tim Benson, shares how the collaboration between SMART Power, Power Logistics and the BBC Events Team on power provision for the Platinum Jubilee supported a saving of over £10,500.00 in fuel spend. 

Tim shares how the teams worked together to specify a power management system capable of dealing with the Jubilee’s variable demand over a protracted period, whilst meeting the BBC’s sustainability aspirations. Learn how they dealt with periods of low energy demand efficiently and employed battery power to achieve the impressive reduction in fuel use:

“2022 marked Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, with an extended May bank holiday weekend of concerts outside of Buckingham Palace. Billed as the ‘Platinum Party at the Palace’, it featured an unusually diverse range of artists, including Diana Ross, Queen, Elbow, Sirs Elton John & Rod Stewart, Duran Duran and George Ezra.

The Production HQ was located in a pop-up compound in Green Park, which remained operative for a month. It comprised of all the usual facilities; accreditation and security cabins, copious production offices, field kitchens for crew and talent, dining tents, workshops, dressing rooms, green room tents and toilets. Whilst some of these were in use from day one, many of them would not come into their own until much closer to the show day. This presented a unique challenge – how to specify a power management system that could deal with such variable demand over a protracted period, whilst meeting the BBC’s lofty sustainability aspirations.

The incumbent power contractor, Power Logistics, had already negotiated a keen per litre price for HVO, which was a great start. They also introduced a single power node to the compound, comprising of four 100kVA generators configured in load demand. For those of you not familiar with this sync configuration, the primary generator (referred to as the priority 1 set) runs the whole time; when it reaches a pre-programmed load threshold, typically between 60 – 80% of its total generation capacity, it auto-starts the next unit in the chain (the priority 2 set) and then the next and so on. Conversely, as the demand drops, the priority 4, 3 and 2 units automatically ramp off, ultimately leaving just the primary unit running. This is the most economical sync configuration available for diesel gensets, yet it fails to address the age-old problem of those periods where demand is well under the total generation capacity of the primary engine, in this case between 60 – 80kW.

So, under the direction of the BBC Events Team and Steve Nolan (Production Manager), began a collaboration between SMART Power and Power Logistics to optimise the production compound power. The plan was to introduce a large-scale battery system (250kVA / 280kWh) in lieu of the primary 1 generator. SMART Power undertook a power audit and mapped out the load profile. Based on their

estimates, they proposed a reverse hybrid configuration for the battery system, whereby the unit managed the load and the generators were only called upon when the batteries needed recharging. SMART Power concluded that this could reduce generator runtimes by up to 35%.

The trial was a great success, with an average battery system versus generator runtime ratio of 57.7%: 42.3%. During week two of the build and towards the end of the de-rig, this rose to 69% : 31%. In total, the battery unit exported 19,380kWh over the 16.5 days it was operational and achieved an aggregated fuel saving of circa 5,400L, which monetized equates to over £10,500.00 reduction in fuel spend.  The site load varied between 30 – 229kW peak and, when charging, the system always ensured that the generators targeted the load and only used their surplus for topping up the lithium cells.

This project also yielded some important learnings. Whilst attention had been paid to the generator ramp on rates for recharging (circa 1kW / second), the ramp off was far too quick and needed to be adjusted remotely to protect the alternators.

These sorts of collaborations are too few and far between for my liking and should be encouraged more by event organisers seeking to capitalise on the ever-growing range of clean-tech power solutions available to them.”

This guest blog originally appeared in the November 2022 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox