December 2, 2020

Ways to Store Solar Energy at Festivals Part 1

Ways to Store Solar Energy at Festivals Part 1

Festivals and other events are not known for their sustainability. Especially music festivals, which are hard to associate with anything eco-friendly, especially given the insane fields of garbage that are left behind by the attendees. Thankfully, those are cleaned up rather efficiently by the large number of festival staff in a matter of hours. But these days attention is drawn to the sustainability aspect of the festivities. Large crowd events are a high-consumption enterprise, especially if they are organised in the middle of nowhere. Spikes in energy consumption are costly, as they represent additional strain on the infrastructure, both for the energy transmission and energy generation. A music festival of several thousand people that lasts several days represents a spike for the grid which must be accounted for.

What many festival-goers don’t realize is that most regions that don’t normally have the consumption levels that the festival demands , and are not optimised for that consumption. Energy generators that provide base-load energy are not so flexible as to ramp up or reduce production just because all of the equipment on stage and all the lighting and facilities around the camp started running. Such spikes in demand usually require so called peaker plants – energy generation facilities that can respond to a sharp rise in energy demand in a matter of minutes. The problem with peaker plants is that they usually rely on coal or natural gas as their primary source of fuel. These are usually adjacent to larger base-load suppliers, such as nuclear power plants. But ramping up these (admittedly carbon-neutral) power plants is like maneuvering a celestial object – it is hard and slow and isn’t done unless absolutely necessary. Peaker plants, on the other hand, work like your gas stove at home – in a matter of seconds you have heat, then steam, which spins the generator. Thus, festivals and similar events are highly carbon-intensive – a problem that many attempt to solve with renewable sources of energy. Thankfully, festivals themselves choose locations with plenty of sun, because weather is a factor affecting attendance. As beautiful as it might be, you don’t want to be pitching a tent among the mountains of northern Norway. That is why solar power is perfect for events.

Solar panels are fairly compact and can come on a truck along with other equipment and stage gear. But the sun doesn’t shine on schedule and festivals can last well into the night. This means festivals have a bit of a problem – base load. They still need a reliable stream of electricity to power the fun. Thankfully, the problem of solar energy storage is global, and receives enough attention to already have some viable solutions on offer. Note that these solutions can be quite expensive, but they are viable if used long-term. If they are used regularly, the return on investment can be quick. Not to mention the awareness it will bring, when people learn that the event is powered by completely renewable solar rays.