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Navigating the ice rink energy challenge

Ice rinks in the Baltics have a very challenging business model. They are very sensitive to any decline in demand, because the energy bills stay almost the same even if less people are using it. The energy consultant company EKA Baltic is ready to support local ice rinks with proven solutions.


While the energy crisis of 2021/22 is behind, ice rinks across the Baltics have been grappling with still higher than before energy bills. In the graph below, it can clearly be seen that up until May 2021 the electricity spot price was quite stable at around 50 EUR/MWh. The data from 2023 suggests that the “new normal” may be around 100 EUR/MWh which is two times higher than it used to be.

 

Looking for solutions

Last year, as the energy crisis hit its peak, ice rinks, including the esteemed "Volvo" sports center, sought alternatives to curb their escalating electricity consumption. In an interview the ice rink director tells that despite efforts to save on energy, including energy-efficient LED lighting and temperature adjustments, the savings were relatively low. The installation of solar panels was seen as a potential game-changer. However, the results were far from revolutionary. Even with 100 kWp of solar panel capacity, the savings amounted to a mere one percent after the first installment and a modest five percent with subsequent additions, predominantly during summer months.


Circumstances at the "Kurbads" ice rink, which made a significant investment of half a million euros in solar panels, reflect the complexities of this challenge. Initial optimism, rooted in calculations indicating substantial savings, met with a sobering reality. The actual figures revealed an average savings of a modest seven percent, falling short of the anticipated 30 percent.

 

The call for expert intervention


In light of the high energy costs, there is a promising opportunity for improvement: seeking guidance from experienced experts in ice rink technologies. With the assistance of professional ice rink consultants, owners have the potential to make significant strides in reducing their electricity and heat expenses. Several EKA case reference projects show savings of more than 50%.


While solar energy is undoubtedly beneficial, the optimization of essential systems such as refrigeration, heating, and dehumidification can consistently and substantially lower the energy consumption throughout the year. Over the past 13 years, EKA has had the privilege of supporting over 130 ice rink energy and technology optimization projects, primarily in Scandinavia, where the climate closely resembles that of Baltic countries.


The benefits

1. Customized solutions: Ice rink consultants analyze specific needs and design tailor-made solutions, ensuring maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


2. Year-round savings: Refrigeration and heat recovery deliver consistent reductions in energy bills, making them a financially viable choice in the long run.


3. Sustainability: A modern refrigeration system contribute to sustainable energy practices, aligning with environmental goals.


4. Financial viability: While solar panels have their merits, refrigeration and heat recovery systems in ice rinks provide a quicker return on investment - typically 6-8 years and substantial energy savings. After the payback, energy bills are about a half of what they are today.

 

How to make ice hockey more affordable?

In the pursuit of a solution, ice rink owners are encouraged to consider the invaluable support of a specialized ice rink consultant. By embracing the expertise of professionals in this field, these facilities can find stability and potential for growth, thus safeguarding the cherished tradition of winter sports in the Baltics.



“EKA - Naturally sustainable engineering solutions”


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