Solar batteries: a green alternative to powering festivals
Johnny Palmer of Pytch and sister company, Solcell, has created large batteries filled with solar energy and shares how it aims to provide a sustainable alternative to generators at events.
Words: Emma Otusajo
How did it start?
As a producer and engineer for many large-scale events, Johnny Palmer, of Pytch, has seen first-hand how much the industry affects the environment and how the generators are used for reasons, including cost, convenience and the perception that no other power source can do the job as well.
So, Palmer created the life-size batteries to cut down on the industry’s impact on global warming and the amount of energy resources used in the industry. For example, the widespread use of diesel generators to power up equipment at events create 1.2 million tonnes of CO2e into the air every year, costing the industry £230,000 annually. Additionally, every year, there are 0.6 litres of diesel used per person at festivals and outdoor events around the UK, and 23,500 tonnes of waste every year.
How do the batteries work?
The batteries are stored together on a solar farm, where they collect the sun’s rays and turn them into solar energy over a period of time. The batteries can then be hired out for events, with extra solar panels, depending on need. One battery can be used to power up a smaller event, while multiple batteries can be used for much larger events, providing a consistent low of energy.
Can solar energy be just as reliable and last as long?
The batteries have shown to provide an ongoing supply of power with no breaks in supply. To give an example, SolCell's MR-7-VLA rack can provide around 7,000 Watts of continuous power, which is enough to power 1,500 LED lights. Incorporating solar panels means that the batteries can use inverters to make the solar power last over a longer period, tapping into an alternative supply when needed.
Are solar packs new?
No, the power of solar is well-known. There are plenty of solar batteries and power packs available to provide energy sources for festival-goers, including for lighting, mobile phones and accessories.
There seems to be a widespread perception that renewable energy sources can’t quite meet the energy requirements needed for a main stage. However, Palmer’s batteries have been successfully powering up the stages of major festivals - and for the complete duration of the event, whether a day or three days.
There is also the idea that solar power is more expensive than generators. While it has been more as an upfront cost, it is making progress in becoming a more affordable option, with sources being just as affordable as generator hire.
What does the future look like?
There is some way to go to change mindset across the industry, but continuing to educate professionals.
Palmer said: “Diesel is incredibly harmful to the environment, to people and it can be a lot of money wasted because generators don’t often get used to their full capacity.”
He aims to replace diesel with solar so that it becomes a complete replacement for generators industry wide.