Solar capacity for sports and entertainment events: a powerful solar power plant was installed on the roof of Kaunas Žalgiris Arena
From now on, Kaunas Žalgiris Arena will generate one third of its own electricity consumption – a 500 kW solar power plant installed on the roof of the building will produce energy for the needs of the arena. The installation of the power plant was financed by a loan from the capital funds of the Public Investment Development Agency (VIPA).
Payback in 2.5 years
Žalgiris Arena is the largest arena in the Baltics. Its construction on the island of Nemunas started in 2008, and in 2011, the arena opened its doors to visitors. The total area of the building is 40 000 square metres. The arena can accommodate up to 20 000 visitors in concerts and more than 15 000 fans during sports events. On average, the Arena hosts 110 events a year, attracting around 600 000 spectators to them. Since its opening, Žalgiris Arena has already welcomed more than 6 million people.
Back in 2015, the Arena was the first sports arena in the world to be awarded the BREEAM In Use certificate for sustainable buildings, and in 2022, a solar power plant was installed on its roof that will generate almost 475 000 kWh of electricity per year. UAB Kaunas Arena, which is the operator of Žalgiris Arena, consumes around 1.5 million kWh per year, so a third of the energy it consumes will be generated by the solar power plant. The project is worth around EUR 400 000, with 50% of the price of the power plant financed by the Environmental Project Management Agency.
“If we were to calculate that electricity costs around €0.24 on the market, the market value of the energy produced per year would be around EUR 100,000. The power plant will thus pay for itself in two years. With certain tolerances, 2.5 years is a very good payback time for an energy project, when the norm for such projects is up to 5 years. When the price of electricity is so high, the payback is quite fast,” says Vilhelmas Motiejūnas, project manager for the development of Žalgiris Arena.
Important event for Kaunas
The new power plant will not only be economically beneficial, but will also contribute to the preservation of the environment and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 200 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
“A nearly 0.5 MW power plant at the city centre is an important event for Kaunas as a whole, as well as in the social context,” says V. Motiejūnas.
“Over the last few years, more than 70 public buildings in Kaunas have been equipped with solar power plants. Today, as many as 56 educational institutions in the city already use solar energy, and it will soon be used in the Children’s Care Home, Kaunas City Polyclinic and the Ambulance Station. And this is just the beginning – the city will continue to strengthen its green course. I am glad that one of the symbols of Kaunas – the Žalgiris Arena – has also joined the list”, says Visvaldas Matijošaitis, Mayor of Kaunas.
Installation of a power plant should be considered in the building design stage
There were some challenges faced in the implementation of the project. Due to excessive roof loads, solar panels could not be installed on the central part of the Žalgiris Arena roof to avoid exceeding the permissible loads, and this is where the main hall of the arena is located, above which various structures for lighting and sound are installed adding to the loads depending on the event. It was therefore decided to install the power plant on the peripheral part of the roof.
“We recommend to those who are still designing buildings to calculate the load on the roof so that it withstands not only the equipment necessary for concerts and sports, but also a solar power plant. This is best done at the design stage. Renewable energy is our future,” says the project manager for the development of Žalgiris Arena.
VIPA invites to invest in energy efficiency
The contractor having won the tender for the installation of a solar power plant announced by the Central Contracting Authority was granted a loan of EUR 300 000 from VIPA’s capital.
“The loan was granted to the contractor because the successful tenderer was a small company that needed additional financing for a project of this size. The loan provided by VIPA allowed the contractor to meet its obligations on time and the client – to achieve the final result without extending the project. Since a quick solution was needed, a decision was made to provide a loan from VIPA’s capital for the project,” says Asta Gladkauskienė, Head of Customer Service Department at VIPA.
With rising energy prices and a significant increase in the risk of a stable energy supply, increasingly more companies have been reviewing their energy consumption habits and looking for more efficient alternatives. Improving energy efficiency is one of the solutions for energy-intensive companies, and the targeted funding provided by the TIPS (Promoting the Development of Sustainable Resources) developed by VIPA in partnership with the European Energy Efficiency Fund can help to achieve it.
The TIPS platform provides funding to public and private sector companies that plan to implement projects in the fields of energy consumption efficiency and renewable energy. This can range from upgrading technological processes and equipment to achieve energy savings, to investments in building modernisation, lighting upgrades, advanced heating, cooling and ventilation systems, solar power plants, solar parks, etc. Up to 80% of the investment value of the project can be financed with loans for up to 10 years.
The TIPS platform can offer financing to projects that are unlikely to be financed due to higher risks or unacceptable financing conditions in the banking sector.