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Tuesday, 04 December 2007

How Green was the Green Man? - Page 2

Written by Matthew Alan Taylor
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Can 45,000 people journey vast distances to a lifeless desert and participate in an environmentally sustainable festival devoted to burning stuff? This year, Burning Man attempted to do just that: go green.

Electrifying the Playa

This year, Burning Man LLC (the “BORG”) worked with a team of Berkeley engineers from The Shipyard to install a 30-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) array in the shape of the Native, sacred Zia Sun symbol. The array powered the pedestal underneath the iconic man statue and the surrounding Green Pavilion. (Such an array could power approximately 10 to 20 San Francisco homes). Batteries stored extra energy during the day so the man could glow green all night.

The array came in handy when the man burned unexpectedly early during the Tuesday lunar eclipse: the array powered the tools needed to rebuild the man.

In the spirit of Burning Man’s “gift economy” – where playa-goers are encouraged to give without expectation of return - a wealthy burner named Matt Cheney, who runs a green technology venture capital firm, fronted the funds necessary to help the BORG gift the array to the city of Gerlach, Nev., to power a school. Over the next few years, the BORG hopes to donate 120 killowatts worth of solar arrays to Gerlach and 60 KW to Lovelock.

Cheney only has to front the money for the panels – most of the cost will be refunded by the state of Nevada, which offers enormous incentives for solar PV (nearly double California’s). Burners without Borders signed up to take care of labor.

Snow Koan SolarSeveral theme camps also deployed solar PV, such as the Snow Koan Solar Camp that offered icy snow cones to burners as well as free electricity.

William Korthof, a solar installer for Snow Koan, recognizes that solar PV is out of reach for most theme camps, because few if any companies rent solar arrays.

“The panels are expensive and the best way to make them cheaper is to keep them in permanent use,” said Korthof.


(Page 2 of 10)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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