We Love Green

Winner of the Green Operations Europe 2012 Award 100% renewable

We Love Green won the ‘Green Oscar’ of the European Festival industry in 2012. They designed a sustainable festival at the outset, and their attention to detail is exceptional. Amongst other achievements, they managed the event on 100% renewable sources., including stages, site services, catering and interactive art.

Firefly supplied the power, providing their Youpower playground and software for the children’s area, featuring 6 bikes with PedGens, a WhirlyGen roundabout, Teedlegen see-saw and LumberGens (the latest addition to their Kinectrics range of products). Their software shows just how much energy is being generated by these playground toys in real time. This is an excellent way of showcasing innovative green products while providing a fun interactive way of educating about the possibilities of clean tech.

They also provide the power for the lighting of the main stage. This is powered by a 45kVA solar rig consisting of 9 Cygnus solar generators and 14Fold Array portable solar PV panel arrays. This allowed for substantial carbon savings for the festival and provided silent, reliable power over the three day event.

The Electric Hotel

Charging ahead! A mini, mobile phone charging power station.

Brainchild of artist Sebastian Fleiter it is a shining example of audience engagement in renewable energy provision. It offers an interactive service for charging phones in the form of pedal power for a free, quick, and fun energy supply at festivals. The brightly polished 1960s chrome camper van also has solar cells, wind turbines and a pump storage hydro power unit which allows it to run 400 mobile phone charging points with lockers that can be availed of for a small fee, allowing them to charge over 3000 phones a day.

Technical challenges in the first year of this innovative and ambitious non-profit business included the underestimation of the requirements for mobile phone charging. They found that standards for phones are not as common as you might think, and there are many different socket types.

To overcome this difficulty around half of all charging points can be used with any model, while the other half have adapters for mobile phones with unique sockets. This service has ended up being a pragmatic idea for providing renewable electricity to festival goers, originating from an idea incorporating the worlds of art and technology.
Currently, new power generators are being developed for The Electric Hotel, and they have received funding from the European Union EFRE programme, as well as various awards for their endeavours.

The Electric Hotel not only provides an affordable and necessary renewable energy powered service, but simultaneously informs and engages festival goers in alternative energy procurement.

Bike-powered: interactive and innovative energy provider

Reaction Sound System

Bike-powered: interactive and innovative energy provider

Reaction Sound System (RSS) use audience participation to power small to medium-sized stages with specially designed bike generators. The audience can see how much power the pedalled bikes have created through responsive meters that show how much energy is available in the storage system.

RSS was developed as part of an on-going project to create a small and efficient sound system that is louder for less energy, can travel lightly and that can harness the muscle-power and enthusiasm of the audience to power the show. What began as a curio act at festivals is now a reliable and sustainable sound system that engages the audience with event sustainability by involving them in the practicalities of powering a stage.

RSS now appears at 8 or more large events each year, including the main reggae stage at Eden Festival, a live & DJ stage at Alchemy, the Cocoon stage at Shambala and at many other smaller festivals and events.

RSS began in the summer of 2009 when they trialled 3 bikes, two ‘tyre and roller’ systems and one ‘belt drive’ system to create power for their sound system. They found the belt drive system to be more efficient and with the help of funding in 2010 they built 5 more bikes, each with generators rated at up to 300 watts. RSS invested in finding the most efficient speaker system and custom-built US designed line array, horn loaded speakers (designed to make sound hold its proportion over distances). These efficiency measures meant that the energy from 6 cyclists could provide quality sound for audiences of up to 2000, in tents as long as 60 meters. With 3 adults pedalling hard the speakers can provide enough good quality sound to cater for around 200 people.

Sound systems are customarily measured in power, under the assumption that a larger energy capacity equates to a louder rig. However this assumes all rigs run at equal efficiency and doesn’t take Sound Pressure Level (SPL) or quality into account. This makes the RSS hard to compare to normal battery or diesel-generator powered rigs but, to put it’s efficiency in context, a standard small PA sound system needs 16 watts to match the output RSS can achieve from just 1watt!  Although not required, a second stream of power can come from backup batteries, putting an extra 300 watts in to help the cyclists which is useful for engineers during during the headline performances or brief lulls and sound checks.

If everyone gets off the bikes at once it takes around 3 minutes for the 20 segment LED power meter to go from full to empty. RSS occasionally let the charge level drop so that the music stops completely in order to demonstrate the audiences’ vital role in the show. From empty, it takes about 1 minute of cycling to get the system operational again and they often use audio samples from well-known performers and a compère to encourage people on the bikes.

RSS are on a mission to evolve sustainably. They have built two new bikes for the summer of 2016 meaning they now have 8 bikes and additional capacity for energy and volume. They have also added a compact modern solar-powered Lithium-Ion battery bank, which they will use to power stage lights, processors and DJ kit, so that more of the pedal power is directly available for powering the speakers.

Many thanks to Reaction Sound System for providing the information for this case study.


Shambala festival 2015

Shambala Festival

Success in renewable energy

Over the last five years, Shambala has consistently reduced their fuel dependency by transitioning to renewables and improving on efficiency. In 2013, Shambala was powered by 93% WVO bio-diesel, 1% solar and 6% red diesel – 100% of which was consumed by tower lights. The ambition to be 100% renewable was achieved in 2014 by using biofuel and solar hybrid systems across the site. Onsite biodiesel consumption was reduced by 20% from 2013 to 2014 by using hybrid systems, and there was a 380% kWh increase of renewable energy, which included stages run completely on solar and pedal power.

To assist in reducing the over-specification of generators, Shambala works with their power supplier to gather the power requirements of all end-users. It is also built into their contract that fuel savings are expected year-on-year, with a fixed fee on biofuel costs to create an incentive for the contractor to reduce usage wherever possible. In addition Shambala stipulate detailed energy monitoring throughout the event, a generator-by-generator post event report, and recommendations for future efficiency gains.

In 2015, the set-up included 22 bio-diesel generators, the full range of Firefly’s Cygnus Hybrid Power, 35 portable solar fold-arrays and 10 power packs. All of the site lighting was LED, 12km of festoon lighting and 105 LED Floods; the tower lights were all HPG.

Shambala Festival has reduced its energy-related GHG emissions per audience day by 39.5% between 2013 and 2014, and has reduced its overall onsite carbon footprint by 81% over 5 years. In 2015, energy (including bottled gas for traders) accounted for 19.6% of the onsite carbon footprint and only 8.53% of the overall footprint when including travel.

An analysis of the costs of energy at the festival over seven years shows that budget per person per day for energy has not increased in real terms, representing a saving if inflation and fuel costs rises are accounted for. Whilst the costs of certain items of equipment hire have been higher comparable to traditional diesel generators in some years, the reduction in total equipment requirements and generator sizes — due to efficiency savings — and in fuel use has outweighed these resulting in cost savings overall.

Thanks to Shambala for the information for this case study.