Celebrating 12 years of good tunes and maintaining its position as the leader of environmentally conscious concert events, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has once again raised the green bar. Last June, as part of our post-festival wrap-up, we reported that big news was coming for the 2013 Bonnaroo, and today we are happy to share that Bonnaroo has installed its first permanent solar array. Although the use of PV panels and solar-powered stages is not new to the festival circuit, Bonnaroo is treading on new ground with a permanent installation. Generating more than 61,000 kWh per year, this system will mark the first of its kind for any US music festival.
In a groundbreaking effort to actively reduce its carbon footprint, Bonnaroo organizers and representatives from Knoxville-based Sustainable Future and Vermont-based Encore Redevelopment announced this week the completion of construction and installation of the country’s first permanent solar array for a music festival. Anyone who has ever attended a previous festival on the Manchester, Tennessee farmland knows there is no short supply of sunlight. The 50 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system will support a significant portion of the festival’s energy needs and is already generating power as preparations for the 2013 festival begin.
“Running part of Bonnaroo on solar power has long been a goal, as it underscores the commitment of Bonnaroo organizers and our community to the environment,” said festival partner Rich Goodstone from Superfly Presents. “None of this could have been possible without the immense support of the generous and forward-thinking Bonnaroo community. Their contributions have brought this project to fruition.”
For the past twelve years, Bonnaroo has continued to provide educational programs and promote sustainable living to festival attendees. The fans have responded in kind. Fully funded by “opt-in” contributions during the ticket-buying process, the solar project is just one of many projects paid for by fans. In effect for the past three years, the “opt-in” contribution funds have provided for other sustainable site improvements including the compost pad, the on-site victory garden and 2012′s mobile tower of power. Bonnaroo also included a $1 fee to all 2012 tickets to generate guaranteed resources for additional on-site green initiatives.
The array system, which was planned by Encore Redevelopment and installed by Sustainable Future, is comprised of 196 American-made SolarWorld solar panels that will be mounted to the roof of a permanent structure in the festival’s back stage area. Generating more than 61,000 kWh per year, the array will account for approximately 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s total electricity needs. While it will not be visible to attendees, an educational display will be exhibited in Planet Roo and fans can also monitor the array’s power generation on the festival website.
“Sustainable Future is pleased to be helping Bonnaroo with its sustainability initiative by providing a solar system that will generate clean solar power for music lovers for many decades to come,” said David Bolt, company founder. “It’s a pleasure to work with such a progressive group.”
Encore Founder and CEO Chad Farrell said about the endeavor, “We are thrilled to have been part of this exciting project, which will allow for a significant portion of the total annual electrical demand of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival to be supplied by a clean, renewable resource. Encore Redevelopment and other advocates for a clean energy future applaud Bonnaroo’s continuing commitment to sustainability and the festival’s strong voice related to the importance of a cleaner, greener planet.”
As a certified participant in TVA’s Green Power Provider Program, Bonnaroo will sell all of the energy produced by the solar PV system back to the local utility distribution network.
“As always, Tennessee agencies have been very supportive; we couldn’t make projects like this one a reality without their support and expertise,” said Laura Sohn, Bonnaroo’s sustainability coordinator.
Since its inception in 2002, Bonnaroo has pioneered sustainability initiatives and outreach programs to reduce its environmental impact and encourage fans to embrace eco-conscious lifestyles throughout the year. A six-time U.S. recipient of “A Greener Festival” award, Bonnaroo has consistently increased its efforts year after year.
“We work very hard every year to not only create new initiatives that lessen our impact, but also to educate and encourage our fans to take these ideas home with them,” explained Superfly’s Goodstone. “It’s gratifying to add the solar array, and we remain committed to joining forces with our community to expand these kinds of projects each year.”
This is just a small sample of Bonnaroo’s eco-conscious initiatives:
- For the second year, Bonnaroo will partner with Zimride to offer a rideshare program for patrons. An online carpooling service, Zimride shares Bonnaroo’s sense of community building while reducing the carbon footprint by lessening the number of cars that travel to the festival. Last year, more than 650 patrons enjoyed rideshare services.
- Eco-Products will continue its Bonnaroo partnership: In the last five years, festival patrons, staff, and artists have been eating off the company’s totally compostable products. Since that time, Clean Vibes, Bonnaroo’s onsite recycling and composting partner, has sent more than 296,000 pounds of Eco-Products to its compost pile. Composting all of its cutlery and serving ware is one of Bonnaroo’s proudest accomplishments.
- Bonnaroo’s aggressive recycling and composting program has diverted more than three million pounds of festival waste from landfills since 2002. In addition, patrons have turned in more than 1 million cups, cans and bottles to the Clean Vibes Trading Post since it opened in 2008.
Even though holiday pre-sale tickets have sold out, there are plenty of tickets yet to come for this year’s Bonnaroo festival, taking place June 13-16, 2013. Stayed tuned to Green Up Music for more event details and news in the coming months.