At the peak of the festival season, hundreds of thousands of celebrants pack their tents, wellies, and their best party attire and make the rounds. While most people will be camping in tents and eating out of coolers and food stalls, the amount of electricity it takes to power even one of our favourite festivals is astounding. The famous music festival Glastonbury typically requires over 30,000 megawatts a year just to run the stages, service tents, food stalls, and portable toilets. While Glastonbury is on a rare fallow-year (taking a year off to give the Worthy Farm fields a break), the many other festivals this year and the fully packed season of festivals next year can always benefit from a few tactics to lower that high energy cost.
The reason? Even festivals have to pay for power. Whether they are hooked up to the grid through local venues or running their own fuel-reliant generators, powering a festival becomes one of the major expenses for throwing one of these amazing summer events. Let’s have a look at some of the initiatives they’re using to reduce this cost.
Manual device charging
Device charging stations have become a staple of modern festivals – if only so we can all take awesome videos and phone our mothers as we promised! However, device charging for over 100,000 people can take up a surprising amount of power, even though any one phone isn’t all that power-hungry. The answer? Charging pumps and bikes!
Why power your phone off the generators when you’re just going to be standing around waiting for it to charge anyway? The latest wave of efficient device charging includes foot pumps that spin a little turbine and stationary bicycles that can generate a significant amount of power. Festivals of the future could be providing an exercise-and-charging tent or attendees could bring their own charge-pumps!
Solar panels for festival stalls
Festivals have everything to gain from seeking renewable energy alternatives to the traditional rented generators. To start with, generator fuel costs money, as does renting and maintaining the generators themselves. Worthy Farm owner and Glastonbury founder Michael Aevis just installed one of the largest privately owned solar arrays in the UK on his cow shed roof to help power the enormous festival that will be picking back up in 2019. While the panels will not fully cover the power needs of the big stages and main tents of the major festival, they will significantly offset the need for generators.
Another approach to solar in the festival setting is how each individual vendor stall is managed. Vendors like food stalls and shops typically connect to the generators, but this shouldn’t always be necessary. With the use of a few portable solar panels mounted to the tops of stalls and tents, more than enough power can be created for a few lights, fans, portable cooking surfaces, and hot food tables.
There is an incredible variety of devices that need less power than usual to provide the same quality experience. Low-power LED light bulbs, for instance, can allow festivals, food stalls, and camping attendees to use less power on lighting in the evenings, while fans and low-power thermo-electric coolers can provide comfort without the full power necessity of things like portable tent air conditioning and actual refrigerators.
Chemical and natural toilets
The portable toilet is an unpleasant but necessary factor for any popular festival, but they don’t have to be as power-hungry as these units typically are. Several models of portable toilet are now capable of self-powering with a solar roof and many festivals are converting to composting toilets that do not need power for flush pumps.