On the 20th of April 2016, I received a call from a friend. This friend told me to stop whatever I was doing and head to the Fitzroy Gardens - Sex Tags were playing at a park party – the sun was out and I couldn’t say no.
Having danced away a few hours, I began to appreciate the level of effort that goes into setting up such an incredible (and free) party. It struck me how fortunate everyone enjoying themselves at the party, including myself, was to have such a natural atmosphere in which to have a good time. I headed behind the decks to thank whoever was responsible and ask about the setup.
To my surprise, I couldn’t see a generator. I asked about how the system was powered and nearly fell over when the organisers responded that it was solar powered. It seemed too good to be true! This idea of partying in nature with the music being powered by nature struck me deeply.
What followed on from that day has been a two and a bit year journey with lots of learning, failure, and eventually two different solar powered system prototypes to power parties. Many parties have been held to fundraise for the unbounded costs associated with creating something I have no experience with, nor any real reference to work off. Trial and error was my best friend.
Now, I have a functioning system that can support a solid sound system well into the night. I’m aiming to get some traction into the festival scene this summer in order to showcase the system and garner increased interest in the ethos of renewably-powered social events.
For me, the notion of harnessing a continuous flow of energy from the sun, channelling it to the panels and then through the generator and out of the speakers really feeds into my values of sustainability by respecting the land we are on, minimising our impact and eventually leaving no trace.
I believe that concepts like this align so well with our generation’s innovative approach to life. In relation to how we socialise and party, we must continue to think: “this is great, but how can it be better” or “what is missing?”. At numerous festivals last summer, this thought continued popping into my head. Indeed, it often seems that festivals tend to utilise the natural beauty of their location as a marketing tool, all while participating in unsustainable practices in order to power the event, usually with diesel generators.
Of course, efforts have been made to improve the integrity of festival’s environmental standards. The adoption of Biodiesel, which has been shown to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, is an important step in these improvements. However, more generally, there has been peaked interest in the collective conversation around the waste left behind after the party is over. For further discussion see: https://tinyurl.com/yawdwt5q
For festivals to truly embrace sustainability and the ethos of respecting the planet, surely powering stages with renewable resources is a fundamental statement – a statement that the crowds will appreciate as representative of caring for the earth and (hopefully) perpetuate through their own actions.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all as easy as buying a couple of solar panels. I’ve learnt the hard way of the infinite variables to consider, such as the very Victorian reality of the sun not always cooperating, and most significantly, the financial cost and environmental impact the batteries used to store the energy have.
All of the leading battery types significantly damage the environment in their production process. What is more, some batteries can only be made from virgin materials; meaning that recycling them to make more isn’t an option.
But in spite of this, I don’t think current limitations to technology should hold us back. Rather, they should be acknowledged as the biggest areas in need of improvement in order to achieve the goal of sustainable energy use. If we can find a more sustainable and financially viable battery option, then we’re not just talking about a few solar powered parties, we could see an entire culture shift to powering their homes renewably.
Our generation has the responsibility to preserve and establish innovative thought patterns in order to create a better environment for sustainable development than the current status quo. And, if I can help to shift a few perspectives through solar powered parties, that’s just fine with me.
To find out more about Solar Sounds: https://www.facebook.com/solarsounds0/