Award-winning research shows how festivals could go greener

Summer is just around the corner and festival-goers up and down the country are stockpiling their wellies, tents, glow sticks and refreshments, but have you ever thought about the energy that goes into running a music festival?


In partnership with Midas Productions, a specialist in temporary power solutions, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been working to find ways to make outdoor events such as music festivals reduce their energy related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 per cent, but now face bigger challenges to implement their findings.

David Noble, Managing Director of Midas, has welcomed the research that has been carried out but stressed the difficulty will come in convincing organisers to change the way they power their events.

He said: “There’s a real mentality of ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ and nobody is prepared to take the risk of not supplying enough energy. If a big event suddenly went dark then that’s somebody’s reputation ruined. They wouldn’t work again.”

The Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) at DMU began working with Midas in 2009 with a view to understanding the detailed use of electricity at outdoor events, such as music festivals, to produce suggestions for how energy efficiency at such events could be improved.

Together they analysed the electricity consumption of more than 200 events and discussed with organisers, on-site traders and power providers to understand the types of electrical equipment used and how long they are used for.

They were then able to come up with a number of suggestions that would see these events reduce their electricity related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 per cent.  These were:
  • specify more energy efficient equipment
  • switch off equipment when not in use
  • size generators more effectively
  • switch to renewable fuels
The results were published in the Journal of Carbon Management, which is available here, and also used in the industry led report “the power behind festivals” published by Julie's Bicycle, Powerful Thinking campaign, which is available here.

However, they now face challenges to try and implement their findings to make such events more energy efficient because of the established conventions within the industry that make it difficult to encourage changes to existing practices.

David said: “It’s a shuffle in the right direction. We had a number of high profile clients that we tested equipment for and analysed how their energy was used.

“We’re still learning from the work we did with DMU but we’re dealing with annual events and because they’re only taking place once a year it’s difficult to adjust their operation.”

Prof Paul Fleming, Director of Sustainable Development at DMU, said: “Based on our monitoring work, festival organisers and power providers have been able to reduce the fuel consumption of their diesel generators. There is great potential to do more and we are working with festival organisers and power providers, such as Midas, to try and achieve this.”

David believes that a lack of education is one reason why people are reluctant to implement change.

He added: “Better education is definitely needed in terms of estimating power loads and understanding new technologies. These are the ways to improve efficiency.”

Despite their research taking time to have an influence on event organisers, David was grateful for the help Midas received from DMU.

He said: “The IESD were absolutely great. Paul Fleming is hugely passionate and his team equally so. We’re still talking to them now after all this time since we started which says a lot.”
Posted on Monday 15th June 2015

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