02 January 2019

Arsenal likes to be out in front, and its latest effort to lead the field saw it become one of the largest and most prominent organisations in the country to install a revolutionary 3MW behind-the-meter battery solution for Emirates Stadium.

The 3MW/3.7MWh battery storage solution, one of the largest at any sports ground in the world and the first at a UK football club, will bring Arsenal immediate benefits, cutting electricity bills and earning money by supporting a low-carbon grid.

Burges Salmon, as one of the market leaders in energy, fielded a team led by partner Ross Fairley and advised the funders, Downing LLP, and the project developer, Pivot Power, on all aspects of the project. The firm also worked with the other key stakeholders in the project to bring it to a successful close. These stakeholders included Arsenal and Octopus Energy – Arsenal’s electricity supplier.

The project is one of the most prominent behind-the-meter battery projects to complete; these projects aim to reduce the energy costs of host companies and Burges Salmon was a natural fit to advise because of its wide experience in energy storage and helping companies manage their energy and utility supplies.

Mehal Shah, Investment Manager at Downing LLP, says: 'This transaction was complicated not least because of the regulatory uncertainty and challenging market conditions. Burges Salmon played a key role as we adapted the business model. Ross and his team brought insights and financial nous to the table, with a strength in depth of knowledge not only at partner level but across the board. They brought everyone together nicely for a complex deal.'

Given the prominence of the location at the world-famous Emirates Stadium, work had to be done to overcome the understandable concerns of the football club to protect the site and avoid disruption. In the end, the project also had to be closed to a tight timetable due to Arsenal’s 2018/19 campaign.

Ross says: 'The biggest challenge for behind-the-meter storage is that, although battery storage is well understood, the host company has to be persuaded that it is going to work for them and not interfere with their day-to-day operations. So, assurances had to be given that it would work properly and ensure there was minimum disruption when people were on site for installation. There were quite a lot of learning exercises to go through to get everyone comfortable.'

Baringa Partners completed the lineup of parties working together to get the deal done, acting as advisers on the commercial model, and Open Energi will be supporting the management of the battery.

'One of the key things with battery storage projects is understanding the energy markets, power contracts and revenues,' says Ross. 'We worked alongside Pivot Power, Downing and their energy consultancy, Baringa Partners, and there was no duplication – everyone respected each other’s knowledge, with the goal of producing something that worked for Arsenal, its stadium and our client.'

Ross and his team brought insights and financial nous to the table, with a strength in depth of knowledge not only at partner level but across the board.
Mehal Shah, Investment Manager at Downing LLP

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