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BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 25 March '16
The collective of students and graduates that’s making festivals greener
It started on a May morning in 2015 at a festival in the heart of Kent. Adam Cane was manning a CampLight solar shower unit at Innocent Unplugged, where he was volunteering in preparation for an upcoming ‘green chief’ role at another festival, RAW FEST.
Three cold students came to the showers – one of whom, Josh Bailey, co-leads the public engagement group UCell (UCL Fuel Cells).
After drying themselves down, conversation flowed and contact details were shared. This chance meeting was the start of a venture to connect people who want to help make UK festivals more sustainable, and raise public awareness of innovations in the field of energy and sustainability. The people-powered project became known as PPL PWR.
The not-for-profit umbrella group includes Rainbowash, UCell and Comp-A-Tent. Rainbowash is a one-man business that brings colour and sustainability to festivals with its portable solar shower trailer.
UCell – a team of PhD students, lecturers and industrial partners based in the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL – specialises in fuel cell technology. It takes its 3kW fuel cell stack to schools, universities and other events, powering stages, bars and performance spaces and helping the public engage with green energy and sustainability.
Comp-A-Tent is a business venture led by Amanda Campbell, who developed a disposable tent as part of her university architectural project at UCL. The fully compostable tent breaks down into just CO2, water and humus in 120 days.
As well as the direct members of PPL PWR, the collective is supported by CampLight, a pre-pitched tent provider that was set up as a solution to the campsite waste issues seen at many UK events. The team collects tents that have been abandoned at UK events, then fixes and restores them for reuse. The tents are then pre-pitched at events and hired out so party-goers can then travel light by public transport.
CampLight is a real advocate of people power and always interested in getting more people involved in festivals, where volunteers help to set up a campsite for the general public and reclaim tents that people leave behind after the event.
Another PPL PWR partner is V3 Power, a renewable energy cooperative that provides the energy infrastructure for events. Thanks to V3 Power, PPL PWR is able to provide festivals with solar, wind and pedal power.
To mark the collective’s launch, PPL PWR is running a competition that’s open to anyone – whether you’re six or over 60 – with an idea for a sustainable technology or innovation. Just as Comp-A-Tent and CampLight solve the issue of tents being left behind at festivals, entries must address a specific problem in the area of sustainability.
While the idea must have the potential to be developed further, it must also be demonstrable on a small scale – and it cannot already be making a profit. The winner will have the opportunity to showcase their project at some of the country’s leading festivals.
PPL PWR is also looking for opportunities to showcase technology at events across the UK – and even power smaller events using the hydrogen fuel cells available for free from Cell.
The team would be particularly interested to hear from academics involved in the field of sustainability and anyone with an interest in making festivals greener. Get in touch with the team if you’d like to be involved in design, giving talks at festivals or would like to help with stage construction or renewable power production.