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US festival to be powered by 100% renewable energy

California’s Mill Valley Music Festival says it will be the first US festival powered by 100% renewable energy.

The coming weekend’s edition (11-12 May) – featuring Fleet Foxes, Greensky Bluegrass and Three Sacred Souls – will operate solely on mobile zero-emission batteries produced by local firm Moxion, which partly powered the 2023 edition.

By switching from diesel generators to Moxion batteries, the San Francisco event will reportedly avoid around 4.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Founded in 2022, Mill Valley Music Festival is organised by the Noise Pop Industries and Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce which called the move “a crucial leap forward”.

“Our city has identified reducing greenhouse gas emissions as a major reduction strategy, along with renewable energy, energy efficiency, EV infrastructure, green building and waste reduction,” says Jim Welte, executive director, Mill Valley Chamber.

“We hope this inspires more eco-friendly practices across the board”

“We’re thrilled to be the exclusive energy source for MVMF this year,” says Paul Huelskamp, CEO and co-founder of Moxion, which also powers events including Californian music festival BottleRock and TOUR PGA Championship.

“Moxion was born right here in Mill Valley, so it’s incredible to see the festival become a sustainability leader. We hope this inspires more eco-friendly practices across the board.”

Mill Valley Music Festival follows in the footsteps of Barcelona festival Cruïlla, which last year was powered solely by electricity from the grid.

Similarly, the main stage at Ireland’s Electric Picnic 2024 will be powered by the grid, while British band Massive Attack has announced an outdoor show powered by battery and solar power.

AGF (A Greener Future) recently hailed “significant areas of improvement” in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events. The sustainability not-for-profit released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

Last month, a range of industry figures shared their sustainability priorities for the live music business to mark Earth Day 2024.

 


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Sustainability heads name top priority for live in 2023

Tomorrow (22 April) is the 74th Earth Day, an annual event to raise awareness of environmental issues. To mark the occasion, IQ asked leaders from AGF, Yourope, Shambala and CUR8 Carbon Removals where the live music industry’s focus should be in 2023, to make the business a greener place. With more sustainability guidance for venues, festivals and tours available than ever before, the executives had one resounding answer for them: develop an action plan now…and stick to it.


Claire O’Neill, co-founder of A Greener Festival (AGF) and organiser of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI):
“The music industry’s focus should be to stop wasting energy, switching to renewable sources and to stop burning fossil fuels. This needs to be done internally through procurements and through serious measures and engagement for reducing audience travel emissions.

“We’re spending far too much on unnecessarily burning fuel inefficiently. For those with energy tariffs that don’t directly fund new renewables, we’re funding the continuation of oil and gas ‘business as usual’ and increasing CO2 emissions, which will ultimately destroy the industry (and more) if not curtailed. If avoiding climate change and ecosystem collapse is not already a top priority with a plan for reduction of emissions, and removals of what can’t be avoided, that needs to happen now. A quick, easy and free change that can start straight away is to switch to plant-based food to protect biodiversity and reduce global emissions.

“We’ve been working for nearly two decades on this topic, with numerous forerunners who have seen the writing on the wall. Don’t be an organisation that got left behind. Time left to snooze has run out.”

Mark Stevenson, co-founder and chief impact officer of CUR8 Carbon Removals:
“There is no right answer but for my money, it’s creating genuine net-zero (as in carbon-removed) venues and stages for artists to walk on to and (if they want) excite their audiences to climate action – which is exactly what Claire and I (as chief impact officer at CUR8 carbon removals) and AEG/O2 are working on right now – do watch this space!”

“Create a genuine net-zero (as in carbon-removed) venues and stages for artists to walk on to and excite your audiences to climate action”

Chris Johnson, co-founder, festival director and sustainability ‘guru’ for the UK’s Shambala Festival:
“There are many great organisations and a lot of good information available to help organisations on their sustainability journey. We also have a North Star in the LIVE Green Vision and Declaration. Local Authorities across the UK are already starting to create standards and expectations for live events, often based on their net zero commitments. What’s needed next is a clear understanding of best practice in practical terms, so that all stakeholders are clear about what minimum standards look like, leading to consistency nationally and clarity of what actions to take for people and the planet. We have the opportunity to lead internationally!”

“What’s needed next is a clear understanding of best practice in practical terms, so it’s clear about what minimum standards look like”

Holger Schmidt, general secretary of the European festival association Yourope:
“After the recently published IPCC report made it clear to us once again that rapid and far-reaching action is essential, there is actually no other way for festivals and event organisers than to finally develop appropriate action plans and stick to them. In the next few days, YOUROPE will publish an important tool for this with the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030, which fits perfectly with the Future Festival Tools we co-created for sustainable capacity building in our sector. So if it hasn’t happened yet, 2023 is the year when everyone understands that it is our duty. And by everyone, I don’t just mean sustainability managers, I mean the entire teams, the artists, venues, suppliers and audience.”

Though the live music business has ample room for improvement when it comes to sustainability, work in the field is gathering pace. This week, Lollapalooza Berlin became the first festival in Germany to be awarded sustainability accreditation according to international standards (DIN ISO 20121 certification). Elsewhere, Glasgow’s OVO Hydro has teamed up with climate change charity Music Declares Emergency to help launch its new Fan Club for Climate Change initiative ahead of Earth Day and AEG Presents is to produce the inaugural date of the newly announced Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series.

 


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Lukas Graham tour to be powered by green batteries

Danish pop band Lukas Graham says it will embark on the ‘first-ever’ concert tour powered by transportable batteries containing green electricity.

The band has teamed up with renewable-technology company Vesta for the ‘In The Round’ tour, which comprises six outdoor shows around Denmark this August.

“The battery concept effectively replaces diesel generators as a power source for the lights and sound of the concerts, enabling CO2 reductions from the production by up to 98.5% depending on venue-specific conditions,” says Vestas.

The concept, similar to that of electric cars, sees batteries charged with green electricity from one of Vestas’ transformer stations at an off-shore wind farm in Denmark.

The batteries are then delivered to the venue and used to power the production, before being returned to a Vestas station to be recharged for the next concert.

“By replacing carbon-emitting power sources with our battery concept, we can almost eliminate carbon emissions”

Vestas CEO Henrik Andersen says: “At Vestas, we know the technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions already exist, we just need more industries to use them. Electrification is at the centre of our strategy to build a more sustainable future, and when Lukas Graham reached out, we saw an opportunity to lend our expertise to his vision of building a more sustainable future for music.

“By replacing carbon-emitting power sources with our battery concept, we can almost eliminate carbon emissions from the live performance and pave the way to potentially scale up this solution in the future.”

Graham adds: “As time goes by, I’ve become more aware of the world I live in – aware of the fact, that we’ve got a shared responsibility for our future and that we’ve only got one Earth to pass on to our children. My hope for this experiment with Vestas is of course to build a more sustainable future for the live music industry, one I represent when I go on stage.

“Hopefully, it will inspire people from other industries to seek alternative and greener ways instead of just doing what we know and have always done. It’s the little things that make a big difference – if we do it together.”

Graham is one of a slate of artists including Billie Eilish, Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band that have announced pioneering plans to reduce the carbon footprint left by touring.

 


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