The perfect match
Paul Arnold reports on a recent project for Wolves FC, where heating is ensuring the stadium is match fit.
You don’t have to be an ardent football fan to be swept along by the thrilling recent performances of the English Premier League clubs, both at home and on the European stage. Certainly, there’s been no shortage of excitement this season at the Molineux Stadium, home to Premier League newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.
Stadiums like the iconic Molineux are at the heart of the professional game. The epicentre of the action, this is where the highs and lows are experienced and where football history is made. The Molineux, which has served Wolves since 1889, was in fact the first stadium ever built for use by a Football League club. In the early 1990s, the stadium underwent a major multi-million pound renovation, and currently it accommodates 31,700 visitors.
But on match day, it’s not only Nuno Espírito Santo’s players who must be match fit – the stadium too must pass muster. And central to this is the performance of the heating system.
Creating a reliably comfortable environment for the Wolves’ players and supporters is a key priority for the club’s operations and facilities management teams. Ensuring that the heating system operates effectively and efficiently is critical if they are to achieve this goal. So when the boilers at the Molineux reached the end of their serviceable life, with parts becoming increasingly difficult to source, Wolves’ head of operations, Steve Sutton, and facilities manager, Mark Lewis, were quick to act.
When selecting the replacement boilers, minimising operational impact, together with reliability and high efficiencies, were the major considerations in line with the Club’s wider efficiency and environmental commitments.
Heating contractors Lord Combustion Services submitted the winning tender with their recommendation to replace the failing boilers with five high-efficiency Remeha Quinta Ace 160 condensing boilers to provide energy-saving space heating. An Andrews ECOflo fully condensing direct fired water heater was selected to meet the high demand for hot water.
Stuart Smith, managing director at Lord Combustion Services, comments: “We recommended Remeha as we are familiar with their products and their reliability. This is matched by the excellent service we receive.”
The boilers have been running problem-free, much to the Club’s delight.
Steve Sutton says: “Reliability is all-important at the Stadium and the boilers and water heater have been great – we’ve had no issues whatsoever.
“On match days, we welcome crowds of nearly 32,000 to the Molineux,” he adds. “The boilers and heaters are therefore a crucial systems support, maintaining high comfort levels for our fans and players and ensuring sufficient hot water for post-match showers.”
So when the time came to replace the ageing boilers at Wolves’ Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground at Compton, Remeha boilers were once again selected as the replacements. The Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, one of the best of its kind in Europe, underwent a multi-million pound facelift last year ahead of the club’s entry into the Premier League.
The upgraded facility, which features state-of-the-art medical, training and rehabilitation facilities as well as housing the Wolves’ Academy in a separate building, meets all the needs of the players and staff. Two state-of-the-art hybrid pitches – one floodlit, the other with undersoil heating – exactly replicate the Molineux turf in size and touch. A new warm-up area has also been provided alongside the new tennis area.
There’s a specialist recovery room, complete with a one-man swimming pool, next to a steam room and the new dedicated physiotherapy room for the under 23 players. New baths – one hot, one cold for post training sessions – have been added in the changing rooms. With an extended canteen area offering a finely-tuned diet for its athletes, and new offices for staff and press conferences, the transformation of the training ground is complete.
“At the training ground, as at the Stadium, achieving reliable heating and hot water was a major concern,” explains Mark Lewis. “However here the boilers do all the work, providing space heating and also feeding into the plate heat exchanger to deliver hot water.”
Lord Combustion recommended installing six Remeha Quinta Ace 160 boilers to meet the requirement for energy-efficient space heating and plentiful hot water for the Wolves Premier League team and the players at the Wolves Academy.
“We recommended installing multiple boilers in a cascade arrangement to maximise their energy-saving benefits,” says Smith. The design not only optimises boiler efficiency but enables easier servicing to maintain the same high-performance operation throughout the boilers’ lifecycle.
“This configuration means that servicing and maintenance can be carried out with no disruption,” adds Smith, “ensuring even greater reliability for the Club and its players.”
Installing the boilers on an easily-assembled cascade system provided a space and time-saving solution, helping ensure that the new boilers were installed within the required narrow timeframe.
“The installation went well with Lord Combustion meeting the tight schedule we set,” says Sutton. “We’re looking forward to benefiting from the same reliable, high performance heating and hot water provision at the training ground that we’ve come to expect.”
As the season draws to a close, Wolves FC are off to a flying start with seventh place in the Premier League and the Europa Cup in their sights. And with the new boilers equalling the high performance of the Wolves players, both at the Molineux and the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, they are proving the perfect match.
Paul Arnold is product manager for Remeha