LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - London’s Olympics will largely be hosted not in purpose-built stadiums but in parks and landmarks across the city and beyond - meaning that the power needed to run them will dwarf that of Beijing, Athens or Sydney.
As a result, London 2012 will probably be the biggest event in the fifty-year history of Scotland-based Aggreko, one of the world’s biggest providers of temporary power, the chief executive of the company said on Tuesday.
The use of places like Horseguards’ Parade, Greenwich and Eton as venues, as well as temporary structures such as the hockey and basketball arenas, mean small villages of generators driving everything from security to clocks need to be assembled in a matter of weeks and then taken down again just as quickly.
“It’s been a major stretch on us in the UK,” said Aggreko Chief Executive Rupert Soames at a briefing for journalists. Finding the staff and logistics has been a big challenge but should pay off, he said.
“When we get in front of other customers, we can say look what we’ve done, you can have confidence in us. There’s value in that.”
Aggreko - which also powers the Superbowl in the United States, the Glastonbury Festival in England, and the Ryder Cup in both the U.S. and Europe - has faced plenty of challenges in the run-up to the Games that begin later this month, and in some cases has had to come up with innovative solutions.
Space is at such a premium at the Olympic Stadium that some of the generators needed are floating on barges on the river Lee, just outside the grounds.
At the Mall, which runs from Trafalagar Square to Buckingham Palace and will be the site of speed walking, cycling and the marathon, the contractors had to wait until the Queen’s Trooping of the Colour ceremony had ended in mid-June before descending to transform the site.
Now the tourists have been replaced with men in hard hats and reflector vests, putting up lighting, 122 toilet blocks, athlete massage huts, media centres, and a beach volleyball court with just the right kind of sand - all powered by 62 generators.
Aggreko is putting 27 million pounds ($42 million) capital expenditure into the Olympics, to service a contract worth about 50 million pounds, and is confident that despite the risk of fuel strikes and even - possibly - un-British heatwaves, the power will stay on.
“This is similar to other events we do,” said Soames.
“The difference in London is the scale.”