How events are contributing to a deadly air pollution (and what we can do about it)



You might know that over the years we became kind of frantic about energy use at events and festivals. A music festival has the same energy need as a small city over the weekend. Because missing grid connection, no technical infrastructure and very little uptake of digital smart metering systems, this energy is mostly produced very inefficiently by diesel generators on site. With more than 500 big festivals and more than 5000 bigger events alone in Germany, this causes a lot of unnecessary stress on the environment and air pollution. But there are alternatives. European festivals, events and cities could become living labs for the demonstration of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen (FCH) technologies, which could produce clean renewable energy with no CO2 or noise emissions at all. This is why Green Music Initiative is engaged in the Everywh2ere Hydrogen project to develop 25kw and 100kw fuel cell generators to be tested at festivals and events all over Europe from 2020 on.

To give some scope to this challenge I would love to direct your attention to a great initative from our UK partners:
To mark World Environment Day, our friends at A Greener Festival UK are happy to have teamed up with Hope Solutions, ZAP Concepts, Julies Bicycle and Powerful Thinking to support this revealing report in to the UK Events Industry’s Diesel usage.

With diesel emissions becoming an increasing public health concern, World Environment Day on June 5th was focused on air pollution. Award winning environmental sustainability management company Hope Solutions and power management specialists ZAP Concepts have brought together key events industry experts to produce an action research report. Thanks to the collaboration of hundreds of major UK festivals and events, the report marks the start of a major industry backed initiative to reduce diesel emissions and move to sustainable energy sources to help fight toxic air quality.

With data from A Greener Festival, Julie’s Bicycle, Powerful Thinking and over 20 million data points of electronic monitoring analysed by ZAP Concepts, the factsheet is a snapshot of the impact of diesel use for power generation at UK events and how it contributes to a very real climate crisis and public health emergency.

„Our findings show event sites in green spaces have worse air quality than inner-city areas, indicating a huge hidden contributor to the growing public health epidemic from air pollution. We are releasing this report to open up the conversation with the industry to effect positive and practical change without diminishing customer experience. For the organisers, every litre of diesel not used is saving money and contributing to the fight against climate change.“ Luke Howell CEnv MIEMA Founder & Director Hope Solutions.

This is a problem that can easily be solved, as reduced diesel use is financially better for the events and venues and significantly better for the environment. The events industry are working to understand and reduce their diesel dependence and call upon other industries to do the same.

„At AGF we have been assessing events impacts across many categories including power for 13 years. There is a great deal more knowledge, monitoring and action now than when we began, but whilst alternative sources to diesel are available they are not yet being fully utilised. There is an urgently need of greater support for event organisers from both government and industry to help them to access cleaner energy.“ Claire O’Neill, Co Founder, A Greener Festival.

„On average the UK event industry could reduce diesel consumption by 40% without risking any loss of power, any blackouts or any detrimental effect on the quality of the events. Venue managers and event managers should take professional advice in order to properly direct their power contractor and ensure that available power is matched to actual demand and where possible introduce renewables and other alternatives. The show must go on but it could go on in a far more sustainable manner, without risking people’s health and without risking the planet.“ Rob Scully MSc, Head of Operations, ZAP Concepts UK

Key points from factsheet:
The UK event industry uses an estimated 380 million litres of diesel annually. That’s equivalent to over 150 Olympic swimming pools full of diesel
Diesel use in generators at events equates to nearly 1.5% of total UK diesel use and over 8% of all ‘red’ diesel use
1.2 million tonnes of CO2e is released from diesel emissions in generators. Approximately the same level of emissions as Malta annually
Emissions from static diesel generators at events are equivalent to adding 220,000 additional cars to the road every day
It would take a forest four times the size of the West Midlands planted every year to offset these emissions
Make sure to check the fact sheet with more details.

So we better start making up our minds on how to change this.
Let’s create festival future without diesel generators.
Looking forward to taking a deep breath.

Jacob Sylvester Bilabeler Bilabel / Green Music Initiative