F1 to sustainably power entire Austrian GP paddock
By Ian Parkes
Tuesday 27th June, 2023 - 9:00pm
F1 will take another step towards its sustainability goals this weekend in Austria where the entire paddock will be run from a ‘single power station’.
Following a directive from F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, the sport has spent the majority of this year looking into sustainable power generation, not simply for the broadcast systems but also in supporting the teams and their infrastructure, as part of its wider strategy to reach net zero by 2030.
At present, each of the motorhomes and support facilities in a paddock are powered by independent generators used by each team, which in turn adds to the per-race expense in terms of running and freight costs.
At the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian GP, the paddock – incorporating the motorhomes, support trucks, pit lane and pit wall, as well as the timing room and F1 event technical centre – will be powered by a mixture of battery storage, Stage V generators running on HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) fuel, and solar panels, the latter a 600 square metre grid on the inner field of the final corner.
“It’s basically a power generation farm, for want of a better expression,” said F1 director of logistics Ian Stone, speaking to a select group of media, including Speedcafe.
“We can use the battery storage to manage the peak power, and it allows the generators to run more efficiently, and run on their ideal loading, and obviously, having battery storage also enables you to reduce the run time.
“We’ve been trialling the battery storage at three or four races already this year. We’ve seen we can effectively reduce generator run time from 24 hours a day down to three or four hours a day by using battery power.
“We’re putting this generator file in place, and running a very complex power distribution network to all of the key points so that the teams can plug in, whether it be for their trucks or their motorhomes.”
Whilst the teams have been using their own battery storage for backup, the F1 system being trialled in Austria is set to be robust enough “to cope with every eventuality”, according to Stone.
“People in F1, we’re all control freaks to a certain extent,” said Stone. “We’ve got to rely on our own stuff, bring our own stuff and do our own thing all the time.
“What this is trying to do is break that so that we can give them the confidence, so it’s a good trial.”
The estimation made by F1 is that from a figure of 200 tonnes of CO2 produced across the paddock in 2022, that figure is set to drop significantly down to just 10 tonnes, with the solar panel array producing 2,430-kilowatt hours of energy.
In terms of cost savings for the teams, the initial trial for the Austrian GP is being funded by F1.
Beyond that, Stone claims that what F1 is primarily looking at is “stopping the teams having to ship their own generators, purchase their own fuel, burn their own fuel, so there are some big gains”.
In case of any issues or disruption to the F1-supplied power, the teams will continue to have their own generators on site.
Stone said: “They’ve all agreed they won’t run their generators unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“We have a lot of redundancy that we’ve built into the system, and obviously, we’ve got huge battery power to sustain any minor technical difficulties. We have a very high level of confidence that the generators won’t be required.”
Asked by Speedcafe whether the ‘farm’ was primarily for European events, given the motorhomes in attendance, and what the plan is for the medium- and long-haul grands prix, Stone replied: “The trial and the data gathering is probably more tailored towards a European solution.
“But when you look at the nature of the power distribution systems at other circuits, there is already the opportunity to do that more sustainably by utilising some of the infrastructure that’s already there.
“We’re going to look at every single event, with the scope of trying to achieve an improvement.
“It could be scaled at some places, we have to accept that, but the objective is to look at every event and how can we make it more sustainable.”