An update from Powerful Thinking

Powerful Thinking is a UK initiative bringing together festival organisers, power suppliers, and industry organisations including Julie's Bicycle, A Greener Festival, the Association of Independent Festivals, and the Association of Festival Organisers to look at how festivals can be powered more sustainably. 

While the Guide to the Power Behind Festivals, their flagship publication, is not due an update until 2016, Powerful Thinking has been busy working on bringing together new knowledge on festival energy and using the data currently available to sketch out a future roadmap for the industry. 


Powerful Thinking launches The Show Must Go report at the UK Festival Conference

The Show Must Go On is a comprehensive 48 page environmental impact report and call to action. The report defines the current impact of the UK festival sector based on Julie's Bicycle benchmarks, discusses where there is potential for reduction and presents a concise overview and proposed roadmap for reduced carbon impact at festivals in-line with UK targets as defined in the UK Climate Change Act 2008. The report aims to inspire the festival industry sector to lead by example in achieving impact reduction targets and calls for festivals to pledge their commitment to achieve a 50% reduction in green house gas emissions by 2025.

“The Show Must Go On report offers clear evidence and direction for meaningful action on climate change. This issue is bigger than any one of us can tackle alone, and we look forward to sharing this journey to become a pioneering industry through our environmental practices.” - Melvin Benn, Festival Republic

Key energy-related findings in the report: 

  • The UK music festival industry is responsible for an annual consumption of 4.96 million litres of diesel on site
  • There appears to be a slow trend towards increasing use of sustainable biodiesel in the industry, up from 3% in 2011 to up to 15% 
  • 65% of festival organisers surveyed in 2015 said that they are tackling energy use as one of their top three environmental priorities

Key opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of festival energy use include: 

  • Reduce energy demand.
  • More efficient system design.
  • Use of alternatives to fossil fuels e.g. solar, wind and kinetic power, and sustainable biofuels.
  • Use of new energy technology e.g. hybrid generators, batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and real-time monitoring.

In summary, industry research "strongly suggests most events can achieve a 30% reduction in fuel use through better planning, system design and reduction of energy demand.Combined with the rapid advancement of hybrid technology and the growth in more sustainable fuels, a 50% reduction in red diesel use seems achievable. This would deliver a 33% reduction in overall festival industry emissions; two thirds of the total that needs to be realised to meet the national government target of halving overall emissions by 2025."

Download the full Show Must Go On Report.


New Generator Research Shows Scope to Save on Energy

The Power Behind Festivals guide, published by Powerful Thinking in 2012, presented research by De Montfort University which found that 60% of generators which they monitored at UK music festivals were double the size required to meet demand, and over half were being run entirely below 25% capacity.

Watt-Now, a Dutch start-up specialising in off-grid energy monitoring and management for festivals presented new data from their recent research study at the ADE Green Conference 2015. The study, which included 270,000 data points, found that 77% of generators had an average load of less than 20% and 69% were twice the capacity of peak demand.

Rob Scully, Glastonbury, Sustainability Projects Coordinator, also presented summary findings from a large-scale monitoring project carried out in partnership with the University of West England (UWE). They found that of the 126 generators monitored, most were oversized.

The case is well and truly made — choosing the right generator for the job produces savings both in costs and emissions. 

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