16 Mar 2018

Powering the Winter Olympics and Paralympics

Key numbers on how we powered the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Written By

    Robert Wells

  • Published in


From ice hockey to ice dancing, and speed skating to skeleton, the recent Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Pyeongchang have kept the world captivated.

But, in the coldest place on earth by latitude, what power is needed to keep this show on the road?

For Aggreko, the answer is relatively simple.

We provided 140 MW of power to the games - the equivalent to flying a commercial Boeing 747 flight across the Atlantic. To do this, we installed 985 metres of cabling (comparable to the length of South Korea), and 232 individual generators.

Our generators enabled 3,492 athletes to take part in 182 competitions across 13 venues, in the mountains and on the coastline.

We also powered seven non-competition venues, including the two Olympic villages and media centres. We exclusively powered NBC coverage throughout the games and were at the centre of delivering the opening and closing ceremonies.

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The highest highs and the lowest lows

An event on the scale of the Winter Olympics in a region like Pyeongchang offers its own logistical challenges.

As with many of our projects, our generators have worked across a multitude of locations - from huge stadia full of spectators, to lighting the ski-jump high up in the mountains.

In such locations, we are using our specialist remote monitoring system - ARM - to gather and monitor vital information for both the customer and ourselves.

Through ARM we can ensure that equipment is performing as required and it allows us to proactively react to any changes, which is especially important in remote and difficult to access areas.

It also proved helpful when our white generators were left buried after a night of heavy snowfall!

Our equipment had to withstand challenging terrain, but also extreme temperatures too.

The average temperature in Pyeongchang during the winter is between -1 and -4 degrees Celsius, or between 30 and 25 Fahrenheit. Pyeongchang (also known as windy valley) is the coldest place on earth based on its latitude, making it a truly unique environment to operate within. Frequently the temperature during the games was -20 degrees Celsius, with a wind chill of – 35 degrees Celsius.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, we provided a significant amount of power for cooling during the Winter Olympics. Broadcast studios require air conditioning outside to keep the equipment switched on, but spectators in temporary structures must be kept warm. A fine balancing act.

Looking ahead

This type of project is an everyday occurrence for us. We take our generators to some of the world’s most inaccessible regions, with the eyes of the world on us.

Global events such as the Winter Olympics will only get more spectacular, more scrutinised and more exciting.

As athletes start their training for the next Olympics, we're already working on pushing our own boundaries to ensure we, too, always achieve our personal best.