Music From The Sun—The Use Of Solar/Battery Systems For Live Events

The use of sustainable energy at live events is becoming a reality for the concert & festival industry. Driven by a desire to reduce carbon footprint, there are also reliability, safety and health benefits. Since clean and silent battery systems let you put the generator almost anywhere there’s space, there can be cost savings with distribution and labor, as well as more flexibility on site design. Combined with fuel savings, the total overall cost is approaching that of diesel generators at many event sites.

Overdrive Energy Solutions recently powered Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion as part of the Music Decarbonization Project, working directly with nonprofits  Sound Future and  REVERB. Music on the main stage, two other stages, several food vendors & sponsor displays were powered from batteries charged by a temporary onsite solar farm. Overall, an over 90% reduction in the use of fossil fuels was achieved onsite, while powering a Stageline SL320 with a full festival tech package, backline, and 14-hour daily run times. Featuring sounds from Willie Nelson’s classic guitar standards to the subwoofer pounding vibes of Big Freedia, Overdrive provided 200A, pure sine-wave 3-phase service with unparalleled stability. This system is expandable to provide over 450A peak, and 480V + transformers are unnecessary since feeder runs can be kept short—there’s no noise or exhaust. 

Image courtesy of Overdrive Energy Solutions

Outdoor festivals are ideal for solar/battery systems. There are options for all types of sites and weather; solar arrays can be ground-mounted where space is available, installed on roofs, vehicles and even act as shade structures. Even when weather is uncooperative, generators used to supplement solar are more efficient than when used to run  a stage directly since charging can be done before doors, thus reducing noise during the show for a better attendee experience. Finally, since there is no exhaust, fueling or noise to contend with, units can be distributed and placed to simplify site design, reduce cable ramps, distro, and feeder. The reduction in background noise and diesel fumes are noticeable on site.

Concerns have been voiced about battery safety and the source of materials used, but this is often based on dated information and misconceptions. For stationary power, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries offer safety and a long lifespan that makes them ideal power sources. LiFePO4 batteries are safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries as they are not flammable and don’t have cobalt and other toxic metals in them. They have a lifespan of 15-20 years in live event use and are recyclable.

Image courtesy of Overdrive Energy Solutions

Moreover, the use of sustainable energy solutions is becoming more competitive with traditional generators. When the cost of labor for setting up power distribution equipment, dealing with fuel costs, and labor for distributing fuel are factored in, sustainable energy solutions are becoming very cost effective. Furthermore, sustainable energy solutions provide a more reliable and consistent source of power compared to generators, which can experience issues due to mechanical failure, fuel delivery issues, or weather-related problems. This means that events can run smoothly without worrying about power interruptions.

The use of sustainable energy solutions at live events like Luck Reunion is an important step towards a more sustainable future. By reducing the carbon footprint of these events, we can help protect the planet and preserve it for future generations. Overdrive Energy Solutions takes this responsibility seriously while working to promote sustainable practices in the entertainment industry.

Neel Vasavada is the co-founder and president of Overdrive Energy Solutions, whose goal is to reduce fossil fuel use and exhaust emissions with sustainable solutions.