Sunrise becomes first UK music festival to use renewable energy smart grid

The festival has enlisted the help of researchers to pioneer a technology that could revolutionise the way outdoor events are powered

Sunrise is set to become the first festival in the UK to be powered by a smart grid.

The grid creates energy through solar panels and vegetable oil generators, using battery units to regulate power as and when it is needed. Organisers hope the system will significantly reduce the festival’s energy consumption and believe it could revolutionise the way festivals are powered in future.

“Battery units will be trickle-fed solar energy from panels across the site,” said Sunrise co-director Dan Hurring. When the power, monitored by a software system, drops, or more is needed, small generators powered by vegetable oil will kick in to recharge the batteries. “A standard festival system has to be constantly ready to provide for peaks of power, so fuel is massively wasted. This new system is very exciting and could prove trendsetting within the festival scene,” added Hurring.

The grid is part of a continued partnership with the Green Festival Alliance and forms a collaboration between energy companies including Greenheart Energy, Firefly Solar and RPM Fuels.

Researchers from De Montfort University will be monitoring the grid during the festival to test its effectiveness and see how much energy can be saved with such a system.

“We will be analysing the data from Sunrise and other festivals to then produce detailed guidance on how festivals could reduce their electricity consumption, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and also save money,” said Professor Paul Fleming, director of the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development at De Montfort. “Smart grids have the potential to be widely used at outdoor events and the extensive monitoring at Sunrise will help identify the potential.”

Sustainability is a major part of the Sunrise ethos and the festival already takes steps to reduce its environmental impact, including running a car-share scheme and providing reusable pint mugs.

Sunrise Another World takes place from 30 May until 2 June 2013 at Thoulstone Park, Wiltshire.

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