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Managing Electricity Demand and Supply for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

The electricity required to power a large multi-day music festival can be huge making it difficult for organisers to accurately match supply with demand. How can festival organisers balance the power requirements against output whilst taking full consideration of cleaner electricity generation objectives and keeping expenditure within budgetary requirements.

A sizable music festival can consume up to 30,000 megawatts of electricity over a weekend which is about the same as a small city. This extremely high power usage has attracted criticism for historically generating power from fossil fuels and creating a large carbon footprint. A key priority for most music festivals is now on reducing their carbon footprint and generating power from cleaner greener sources.

Electricity Can Be Complex. 
Calculating power requirements requires comprehensive understanding by technical professional electricians who know how everything gets connected. It’s never a simple case of producing electricity from a diesel generator and plugging in an amplifier. Understanding terms like watts, amps, and voltage along with how the various cables, plugs, and extension cords work together is essential. Anything that requires electricity will have a ratings specification which tells the electrician valuable information like how much amperage it takes, how many phases and voltages etc.

Technical Specifications. 
Both artists and equipment supplier's advances should allow for technical specifications to be submitted to organisers. This information can be compiled by technicians to help build a complete picture of the likely power requirements. Once finalised these can be the basis for the type of electricity generators required with amplification usually having the highest power output with a typical festival stage using anywhere between 20,000 and several hundred thousand watts. 

Power Options. 
The most efficient power units are the temporary diesel and biofuel generators often seen on festival sites. They can generate up to 2,000 KW of power which is sufficient for stage amplification and lighting. Many traditional generators are now powered by biofuels rather than diesel as a cleaner option but hydrogen fuel generators are becoming more popular. Wind and solar power generation installations are also gaining popularity at many festivals as the greener option but can rarely generate more than a fraction of the power required and are only suitable for vendor and sponsor pitches for example.

Budgeting for Power. 
Diesel fuelled generators are still difficult to compete against when considering the costs against the power generated. Biofuels may be more expensive than diesel fuel and some suppliers of generators have a dislike for biofuels as they can cause damage and be more expensive to maintain. Hydrogen is becoming a more popular option but can still be significantly more expensive than traditional generators. Whilst wind and solar power generation requires no fuel combined with zero emissions the installations can be extremely expensive and can be limited by specific geographical locations. The use of diesel generators remains the primary power solution for festivals but there is now more emphasis on load balancing which reduces fuel consumption by only running at capacity when needed.

The current power options for music festivals are going through a period of transition with rising fuels costs and pressure to reduce carbon footprint driving change. Combined with power requirements of equipment many festival organisers are trying balance budgets against essential requirements and the need to be greener. Advances in technology will improve the situation over time but for the next few years organisers are going to need to have a more a dynamic approach to managing their power supplies.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by
Bartek Leszczyński via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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