Andrew DeVilbiss is the Project Manager AES at Aggreko, where he has worked for over 20 years. He is committed to the company's leadership in providing mobile and modular power solutions.
How to Power Events in a Greener Way
With the continually rising impacts of climate change, the demand for sustainable energy alternatives is more pressing than ever. Every industry faces a range of challenges when going green. Without a thoughtful strategy, even staging an event can contribute excessively to emissions. Event preparation is complex to begin with, especially with the new imperative of powering events in a greener way. Thanks to new technologies, there are several ways that events can achieve this goal. Whether it be a concert, a sporting event, a trade show or a conference, events can rely on new sustainable technologies to cut back on emissions.
There are a number of ways events can make the transition to using sustainable energy sources such as solar power, HVO fuels, battery storage systems or a combination of these. These solutions are compact, mobile and modular for efficient transport and deployment. Each offers different benefits, and it’s important to understand the various options.
Solar power is one of the most popular choices used to power an event for several reasons. One significant benefit is that it’s noise-free, making it a perfect fit for music events. It’s also a 100% emissions free-choice. So, what’s the catch? One challenge is that it relies on clear weather. Therefore, locations with less sunlight (or a rainy day) will generate less solar energy. This is where battery storage comes into play.
Battery storage systems allow the energy generated by solar power (or any source) to be stored for later use. With a battery system that can be charged and discharged repeatedly, many elements of different events (such as lighting) can remain powered throughout the duration of the gathering. This eliminates the need for traditional generators, thus significantly reducing carbon emissions. Some events choose to use mobile solar systems by day and charged batteries by night—two quiet, emissions-free methods that can complement each other. Such systems also reduce or eliminate fuel consumption and its associated costs.
Traditional generators with alternative fuels are another option if power needs are extensive enough that solar or battery storage are insufficient. You can power your event with the same conventional generators that are traditionally used but run them with alternative fuels that are far more sustainable, such as hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO). Even making the change from diesel to propane significantly reduces carbon emissions. Going green does not have to happen in one step, and it’s not an all-or-nothing process.
In order to obtain these alternative solutions, companies and vendors can work with temporary power generation equipment suppliers to arrange renting appropriate equipment on an as-needed or as-a-service basis. The rental process includes designing the right combination of systems; setting them up; testing and operation; maintaining them during the course of an event—whether that’s days or weeks or even longer—and then taking down and packing up equipment following the event. Prices will vary, but typically there’s no upfront cost, and rental periods are based on a regular monthly or annual fee.
By finding the right sustainable solution for an event, planning and preparing can be easily done while still working toward a greener future. Not only will the planet benefit from such a choice, but doing so also sends a positive message to attendees that organizers are thinking green.
Sustainability continues to be a growing concern, especially for younger generations, such as millennials and Generation Z. According to Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey of 2019, millennials and Gen Zers were asked which challenges facing society are they most concerned about and “climate change/protecting the environment/natural disasters” topped the list. Going green has the added benefit of polishing an event’s image in the eyes of such audiences.
By making greener choices such as sustainable energy sources, companies not only lessen their carbon footprint and make the planet greener but also satisfy the desires of attendees, a large percentage of whom consider these factors before attending events. Some solutions even offer considerable financial savings. Ultimately, making the switch to a sustainable event benefits all concerned parties—especially the planet.