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Music festivals consume a significant amount of power. Stage equipment, vendors, and other ancillary services all require electricity. Because these festivals take place in remote locations, conventional power supplies are usually banks of diesel generators. While solar and wind do not produce enough power to run these festivals, hydrogen-powered generators can provide substantial electric power and produce zero emissions. This article will examine the challenges associated with traditional power supply methods for music festivals and how they can be made more sustainable.
Alternative power sources
Large music festivals can use more than 300 megawatts of power over a weekend – the equivalent of a small city. Organisers are under increasing pressure to comply with environmental laws and sustainability policies, but using diesel generators for music festivals is not sustainable. A 2011 study estimated that music festivals in the United Kingdom used 2.6 million gallons of diesel fuel and emitted over three thousand tons of carbon dioxide. Alternative power sources have emerged as a practical way to meet the demands of a large-scale event without compromising the quality of music.
One alternative power source that is becoming more widespread is solar power. Although the costs of solar power panels are rising, this fuel source has many advantages. The energy it produces is clean and produces no by-products. It can also interface with hybrid-technology and help reduce the fuel consumption of generators. Festivals are beginning to implement solar power at their events. They currently use a combination of solar panels, diesel generators, and waste vegetable oil generators, but are working towards being completely photovoltaic.
The electric Daisy Carnival, for example, has recently begun working with a company that produces battery-powered generators. Joule Case has a profit-making record and is seeking its first large equity raise. It will send representatives to music festivals to demonstrate its battery-powered generators, and discuss greener energy sources in general. It will also provide power to a first aid station, for example. If the electricity supply isn’t reliable, attendees can use their own devices to produce energy.
The biggest concern for festival organisers is power, but if the festival runs on diesel, it isn’t the only problem. Fuel consumption can be extremely high, which is why festivals should take steps to increase efficiency of their power sources. In order to increase efficiency, the festival must be able to identify the main sources of power and identify ways to optimize them. Generally, power efficiency is between 70 and 80%, so the festival must find ways to use energy efficiently.
Another important consideration when selecting a power supply is the amount of power required by the different stages. Depending on the amount of power needed, generators may need to run at different capacities. Festival organisers can use energy management software to better estimate their energy needs and predict the capacity of their generators, which can result in huge savings. Furthermore, gridless technology can replace large generators and deliver clean, quiet power. It also saves on logistics and permits.
In addition to calculating generator efficiency, festival producers should consider the fuel consumption by each individual stage. Typically, a festival runs at about 25 percent efficiency, which means that the power provided by each stage consumes up to five million litres of diesel each year. The figures listed are only a fraction of the total energy used by the festival. It is important to remember that fuel prices are affected by many factors, including headliner availability, festival size and climate change.
Some of the trash at music festivals comes from festival attendees and vendors. Some attendees bring their own equipment to the festival, but fail to properly dispose of it once the event is over. Others bring food and drinks in plastic containers and cutlery and fail to properly dispose of these items afterwards. Other festivalgoers do not want to take the time to properly dispose of their garbage and leave it on the ground. Unfortunately, most of these items are not biodegradable, and this can have damaging effects on the environment and the surrounding plant life.
Music festival organizers can take steps to reduce the amount of waste they produce by offering alternative energy options. Most music festivals have trash bins, but one festival, Envision, recycles up to 70% of their waste. This means that the festival saves equivalent CO2 emissions to that of 35,000 cars annually. While Envision and other festivals are lauding their efforts to reduce the amount of waste produced, they have also been neglecting one of the biggest environmental issues at music festivals.
Energy management software can help festival organizers predict their energy requirements. By using the data provided, these festival organizers can reduce the size of the generators and their overall size, thus saving on fuel and electricity. Festivals should also avoid overprovision of their generators, as this results in their running at low loads – another major source of energy waste. Instead of relying on generators, music festival organisers should invest in solar energy and renewable energy sources.
A music festival’s solar stage sounds like a green-washing hoax. But in reality, the Solar Stage is a vital part of Outside Lands, where concerts have been performed since 2005. Alternative Power Productions runs the solar stage. In addition to providing concert-grade sound, the solar stage also stores and uses excess energy. A solar trailer measuring 25 feet long and six feet tall provides solar power to the festival’s stages.
The solar system at Bonnaroo is made up of 196 SolarWorld panels. The festival contracted Sustainable Future, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based SolarWorld authorized installer, to install the system. The solar system is expected to generate 61,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year – equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the festival’s annual power use. Festival goers can view the solar panel display in the Planet Roo area.
The technology behind this method is known as photovoltaic (PV) arrays. It uses panels made up of dozens of solar cells, or semiconductors. These cells capture solar energy from the sun by knocking loose electrons in a semiconductor. These electrons are then focused through an electrical field, and the current flows through a metal contact at the top and bottom of the solar cells. It can power an external device, ranging from a calculator to a power station.
The first question on your mind may be, “How much biodiesel does a music-festival use?” The answer may surprise you, but the amount of fuel used by these events varies wildly. Many smaller festivals are already green, and some even go beyond reducing their energy use. Bonnaroo, the largest free music festival in the U.S., uses biodiesel blends to power their stage and trucks, while the Bumbershoot Festival focuses on using energy from a carbon neutral provider, as well as a number of other methods, including solar panels on their Northwest Rooms.
Waste vegetable biodiesel is derived from cooking oil, but it may not be available at large events. Another alternative is using bicycle pedal power to convert kinetic energy into electricity. Bike pedal power, for example, can power cinemas, mobile phones, sound systems, and interactive art installations. The power generated by all the bicycles is then accumulated and stored in batteries. However, this approach may not be feasible for a music festival, which requires thousands of bicycles.
Despite their immense popularity, UK music festivals have taken their sustainability efforts seriously. Sustainability has taken centre stage in the music industry, with the looming threat of global warming weighing on the minds of festival organizers. With government commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the music industry is under increasing pressure to minimize its impact on the environment. Music festivals are also working to reduce their carbon footprint, and HVO fuel is an alternative fuel.
Pedal power is one of the most sustainable sources of energy available at a music festival. It taps into the collective power of the audience and is the cleanest source of power used at a festival. The technology improves the atmosphere at the festival by enabling world-class sound reinforcement with custom-made tools. This gives the crowd a new connection to the music and provides the musicians with a powerful “in the moment” energy.
The company Rock The Bike, founded in Berkeley, California, aims to connect musicians and enthusiasts of pedal power. The company is a community-driven business and believes in collaboration and community. They are helping to make pedal powered music more accessible to performers. Rootfire in The Emerald City will feature pedal-powered sets by Justin Ancheta and Soul Graffiti. If you’re interested in volunteering to pedal at the festival, check out Rootfire In The Emerald City.
The idea of pedal power at music festivals has been around for a few years. During a recent summer tour, Shure spoke with two cycling musician-activists who are transforming a small town in Germany into a pedal-powered music festival. They built a pedal powered sound system in conjunction with d&b audiotechnik, a company that makes audio equipment. Pedal power music concerts are now a reality and can help the environment.
Renewable energy sources
The energy consumption of a music festival can be significant, consuming a huge amount of diesel and electricity. However, innovative recycling measures can help manage this problem to some extent. Among other measures, using renewable energy sources can reduce diesel usage and reduce the festival’s carbon footprint. In addition to limiting the environmental impact, these fuels are also highly portable and cost-effective to run. But which of these energy sources is best for a music festival? Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Biodiesel is one renewable energy source for a music festival. However, it can void warranties of expensive tour vehicles. A good way to offset the electricity use at a music festival is by using renewable energy credits, or RECs. Many renewable-energy credits have been purchased by music companies, including Sub Pop Records and Glastonbury Festival. However, it’s worth noting that using biodiesel could void warranties of expensive tour vehicles and a music festival’s insurance policy.
Solar power is another renewable source. While solar panels are expensive and need physical space, they produce zero carbon emissions. The electricity produced by solar panels is clean and free from any by-products. The problem is that the panels are too expensive and produce too little electricity to support the heavy usage of a music festival. Solar panels are not completely free of pollution, however, and the process of producing them involves toxic chemicals, which may end up in the environment.