ABB joins Battery Storage collaboration to power Sprinklers at Swedish Timber Tower

Feb. 9, 2023
The Sara Kulturhus is a hotel and cultural center built and opened in Skellefteå, Sweden, in 2021. The 75-meter structure contains 20 storeys of museum, library and theatre space and just happens to be one of the tallest wooden structures in the world

A skyscraper which harkened to the past for its construction is also embracing the future in both its cultural and energy objectives.

The Sara Kulturhus is a hotel and cultural center built and opened in Skellefteå, Sweden, in 2021. The 75-meter structure contains 20 stories of museum, library and theatre space and just happens to be one of the tallest wooden structures in the world.

The Sara is clearly aiming for next-gen in its energy profile, however, as a zero-emissions site. This can be seen with various efficiency and clean energy adoptions in the facility.

Among those changes from the past is that the all-critical sprinkler system would normally would be powered by backup emergency diesel generators. Instead, the fire protection system—the building is timber, remember?—will be powered by a battery energy storage system (BESS) designed collaboratively by Skellefteå Kraft and ABB.

The BESS has six Northvolt battery packs, AC & DC switchgear supplied by ABB, and inverters from EPC Power. The site also has a transformer.

“This is a lighthouse project which embodies the region’s values of delivering ecological, economical and social impact to attract more people to the Skellefteå and supports the green transition across North Sweden,” Anna Jirstrand Sandlund, CEO of Sara Kulturhus, said. “With a wooden building of this scale, fire safety had to be one of our main considerations. By collaborating with ABB and Skellefteå Kraft we have developed a unique solution that is now one of the highlights of our twice daily guided tours for visitors.”

Given the uniqueness of the wooden skyscraper, ABB built and factory-tested the BESS package off-site and then energized it in the basement of the Sara Kulturhus. ABB’s eStorage OS energy management system will provide monitoring, diagnostics and data analysis.

“To reduce the site’s carbon footprint, it was also key to work with local suppliers,” Patrik Sundberg, business manager at Skellefteå Kraft, said. “This innovative new concept really pushes the boundaries on the use of battery energy storage for fire prevention applications and will set a new standard for sustainable buildings in the future.”

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The Sara Kulturhus was designed by White Arkiteker with the goal of being a “passive building” which is in line with Sweden’s goal of building all new construction to be net-zero in coming years. Intertwined in the building’s wooden panels are solar panels, heat pumps and the energy storage system.

The timber itself was brought in from controlled forests in the region and processed nearby into laminated lumber.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 15-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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About the Author

Rod Walton, EnergyTech Managing Editor | Senior Editor

For EnergyTech editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

Rod Walton has spent 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. He formerly was energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World. Later, he spent six years covering the electricity power sector for Pennwell and Clarion Events. He joined Endeavor and EnergyTech in November 2021.

Walton earned his Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. His career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World. 

EnergyTech is focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

He was named Managing Editor for Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech starting July 1, 2023

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.