Event power

It’s January and Christmas may be nothing more than a distant memory you’d rather forget, yet considering the tough financial year most have experienced to some degree, it’s welcome news to hear of a raft of festive markets, light parades and light switch ons that were not canned as a result of budget cuts. Instead, it’s been encouraging to hear from a number of event suppliers, which have either won new contracts or powered the festivities in a bid to bring cheer to the public.

Power Electrics Generators has just been awarded a four-year contract by Cardiff City Council Events Team to provide a range of generators to power all its events, including Rally of Great Britain, European Water Ski Championships and the Admiral Cardiff Big Weekend. The Bridgend-based will be providing a range of generators tailored to each event, ranging from 3-250kVA, and it will also provide synchronised sets for live concerts in 2010.

Likewise, ide Systems, which designs and manufactures electrical distribution equipment and supply cable, has had a busy winter, successfully supplying equipment and cable for Birmingham’s “Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair” and the Manchester Christmas Market. The “Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair” in Birmingham, is one of the world’s largest authentic German Christmas markets to be staged outside Germany or Austria, with more than 150 stalls and attracting more than 2.8 million visitors over a six-week period, trading for 13 hours every day.

Powered up

Substantial events that require power over a prolonged period of time must take into account the natural environment in which the event operates, and not just the carbon emissions that are to be generated.

This was demonstrated when Power Logistics provided a power solution for the duration of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which boasted central London’s largest ice rink as well as an array of Christmas markets, rides and attractions. Due to the Parks ongoing commitment to maintaining the environmental upkeep of the area, it was essential that the Power Logistics team were extra vigilant when handling diesel and conscientious of any disruptions to the wildlife.

Mike Whitehouse, Power Logistics’ business development manager explained: “Minimising light penetration was a priority as certain UV rays disrupt nocturnal wildlife like bats. We ensured that in sensitive areas the lighting used had special covers on the lenses, which eliminated the harmful rays. This is a consideration that we have been aware of before, so we were able to draw on past experience and adapt our equipment.

“As always, safety was of paramount importance, especially in this instance as the park allows public access from 10am-10pm with minimal restricted areas. We ensured that one of our technicians was on site at all times and that all maintenance and re-fuelling for example was conducted outside of the public hours so there was no disruption to the setting.”

The Wiltshire-based company is looking to further extend its international work within the festival and sporting areas of the business, having recently powered the staging and lighting requirements F1 ROCKS™ Singapore with LG.

Pearce Hire, based in Peterborough, has recently invested in new equipment. Double-skinned, “bunded” fuel tanks that protect against any potential leaks, which could be costly for organisers and damaging to the environment, have been purchased by Shaun Pearce, managing director.

But as well as improvements in the power generator technology, Pearce Hire has also introduced ways of minimising power usage.

Continued Pearce: “We offer a power, lighting and audio, giving organisers one point of contact and allowing us to coordinate all aspects of production including transport for the most environmentally friendly solution.”

This was demonstrated when Pearce Hire provided power, lighting and audio for the Peterborough Christmas Light switch on last November. Organisers Peterborough City Council benefitted from the company’s new range of i-pix LED lighting, which kept the diesel consumption low allowing them to add more lighting fixtures without increasing the generator size.

“Our new photo cell power units automatically turn lights off in daylight whereas previously someone had to individually turn off each fixture. Recent investment in LED lighting for staging, low wattage festoon lighting and sodium halide flood lights, rather than halogen, have resulted in significantly less power usage, allowing us to reduce generator sizes meaning less fuel consumption.”

Pearce Hire has also provided power, lighting and audio for Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market in recent years. In 2009, Pearce Hire redesigned the site layout to be powered from a central pair of synchronised 250kVA generators, opposed to the two sets used previously from each end of the site. This allowed the company to power the site at night using just one generator resulting in reduced consumption, cost and environmental impact.

Carbon cuts

According to Firefly Solar, the first rule to environmental sustainability is to reduce your dependence on resources. The company is currently working towards the new British Standard 8901; Richard Randall, Firefly Solar’s project co-ordinator, says that in coming years the regulations and legislation that is likely to be implemented by the Government will increase the demand for renewable sources and drive investment, making solar generators more abundant within the events industry.

Firefly Solar collaborated closely with the event organisers of BBC’s Springwatch to dramatically reduce energy consumption. By raising awareness amongst the suppliers and traders through pre-production it was able to cover the site-wide power requirements with its Orion solar generators, reducing on-site power consumption by 80 per cent and removing the need for diesel generator sets and fuel.

Firefly’s most popular product is the 5kVA Orion solar generator.


Said Randall: “Organisers like these units due to their large power output and the ability to link the units in parallel to create a 15kVA power source. Each generator will roll onto site with a minimum of eight hours of charge already contained within the batteries, thus supplying constant power on the darkest, rainiest of British days, and even at night. As soon as the sun rises our panels will start working, but with eight spare hours of use at 100 per cent load on board our generators are as reliable as any other fossil fuelled alternative.”

In September, the 10:10 campaign was launched at the Tate Modern, London: The campaign aims to inspire people and businesses to pledge a cut of 10 per cent of their carbon footprint by 2010.

Firefly Solar was assigned the task of producing the outdoor live stage by the riverside and powering all of the equipment with renewable power sources. Firefly used three Orion solar generators to power a flown 25k D&B line array PA and a lighting rig. An interactive element was added to the proceedings by enabling the audience to get involved by powering the stage with a pedal powered link up. Firefly’s modified bicycles were ridden on the spot helping to charge the Orion solar generators.

The event, produced and managed by Unity, saw 5,000 people sign up to the campaign. It was also the largest PA Firefly had powered with its Orion solar generators.

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In October, Sparks Power was asked to provide the power and car park floodlighting for the International Association of Scientologist’s 25th Anniversary.
This annual event is run over three-days but power is needed on-site for two weeks and provides for an extravagant finale show to over 7,000 guests.
Sparks Power provided nearly 2,000kVA of power for the event with the main marquee requiring nearly 1,000kVA of available power for showtime and rehearsals.

Sparks Power synchronized several smaller generators, creating a load sharing system, ensuring no interruption to the event’s power supply. Because of this system, it was able to run the event on a single 220kVA generator outside of the main showtimes.

Since the load sharing system was introduced, the event has reduced its fuel usage by almost 10,000 litres.
Said Andy Johnson, director of Sparks Power: “We believe that the time spent looking at the site, deciding where the amounts of power are required and when the power is needed are key in helping the organiser reduce fuel costs. We find that most people focus on the generator hire costs rather than the final bill for providing power but we are finding that organsiers are talking more about fuel costs than in the past, and by using the system above, we feel that we can help meet their needs.”