Powering Up for Sochi
What it Takes to Provide Olympic Caliber Energy
We’ve all heard the Sochi Winter Olympics are by far the most expensive in the event’s history. While Russia has not released details of how it spent its Olympic budget, you can bet a big part of the estimated $50 billion U.S. dollar expense went to energy infrastructure.
Russia is considered an energy superpower. It boasts the largest natural gas reserves on Earth, but most of that is located in remote and frozen regions in the north and east. Sochi is a Black Sea resort town in the nation’s west. It was far from any major pipelines and transmission wires when it was selected as Olympic host back in 2007.
Since winning its Olympic bid, Russia has built 49 major energy projects that have increased generating capacity in the Sochi region by 800 percent.
Even without the Olympics, Sochi was in dire need of an improved energy distribution system. Prior to the building boom, the last pipeline was built in 1973. The Russian Ministry of Energy admits about half of all fuel was lost during distribution.
The Olympic energy projects included a 106 mile natural gas pipeline beneath the Black Sea. That fuel feeds a new thermal power plant in Sochi and is expected to provide one-third of the peak energy demand during the Olympics. Power will be augmented by a second power plant build in the northwest of Sochi. All of this new electricity generation also required 460 new distribution lines.
Even more energy will be temporary and easily removed when the games are over. Some arenas, media centers and Olympic villages will be fueled by 120 diesel generators.
When the Olympic athletes pack up and head home, Sochi will be left with a much improved electricity generation and transmission system.
Source: National Geographic Daily News