Access chats to power providers on how they supply to the largest events in the country
To imagine an event without power is something particularly bleak. That would mean no hot food after hours in the cold waiting for a band to play and no lights to guide your way from the stage to the muddy field that is your home for the night.
Access sits down with power specialists to discuss the importance and the future of power at outdoor events.
What does your company do?
Alistair Gregson, project manager, The Powerline (AG): Powerline provide power solution for live events, festivals and outside broadcasts.
Lindsay Nearn, managing director, Flying Hire (LN): We are an event power company with a fleet of 100 tower lights and 100 generators.
Richard Denholm, sales director, Morris Site Machinery (RD): We are a British owned family business that have been operating for 147 years. We operate in several markets including construction, infrastructure and events.
What type of events do you provide for?
RD: Festivals like Glastonbury and Goodwood Festival of Speed, and independent music events, along with outdoor weddings and TV and Film sets.
AG: Anything from a small wedding in our local area to a large festival site. We supply specialist generation and support to major outside broadcasts, such as state occasions and bespoke packages for private events throughout Europe.
LN: Our events vary from boutique weddings, which would typically only require a single machine with distribution, to a large festival requiring upwards of 60 machines and 40 miles of cabling.
During an event, what are your main responsibilities?
AG: We have to monitor the fuel use and equipment performance, and refuel any plant that needs re-fuelling, as well as maintaining a constant supply of power.
LN: Depending on the client, we may provide a full service that includes stand-by engineers and a fuel management service; for other clients it may be a set up only.
Festivals bring a demanding audience; how has it affected the power sector?
LN: The requirements only get bigger. They are more diverse now and may even include hot tubs.
RD: As audiences strive for more authentic experiences, the quality of equipment hired has to be reliable. There are no second chances. This has seen an increase in demand for quiet, compact and efficient equipment so that the event experience is never compromised.
What’s the largest-scale job you’ve done?
RD: Our brands are used on high-profile projects such as Glastonbury, T in the Park and V Festival, along with major blockbuster films such as Star Wars, James Bond and Fast & Furious, to name a few.
AG: We relish a job with challenges, but the scale of a project is surpassed by the logistical challenges or venue restrictions. This is where a company can stand out and truly shine.
LN: We work on a number of faith festivals with on-site numbers close to 60,000 people. Add into the mix a broadcast audience of 180 million and you realise how important good power is.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
LN: Organisers do not always realise the cost of transport and the effort it takes to maintain accreditations. The expectation of quality compared to budget doesn’t always match.
RD: The event sector has become much more diverse and the competition has heightened. This means that event organisers are looking to contractors and manufacturers to provide reliable cost-effective power products.
AG: The buzzword has been and will remain ‘sustainability’.
How can organisers improve?
AG: The more information they give us enables us to deliver the best possible service and the most suitable product, the more detail the greater the potential for savings in terms of fuel and money.
LN: We want organisers to understand how much it costs to maintain a high level of accreditation.
“Organisers need to be more aware of the importance of accreditation”
– Lindsay Nearn, Flying Hire
How is your company actively being eco-friendly?
AG: We have set up a comprehensive carbon to set programme. This year sees all our activity carbon to set, including not just our own transport but also that of our suppliers and sub-contractors when engaged on our projects.
LN: Organisers have a fixed idea that biofuel and hybrid machines offer a green solution, but the fact the equipment is delivered by a HGV (heavy good vehicle), questions the argument. Biofuel is more expensive than conventional red diesel and has a lower calorific burn rate, which means the generator needs to burn more to achieve the same output. Flying Hire takes a different view, we specialise in synchronised generators whereby when the load is not required a smaller generator can keep the requirement live. This reduces the total fuel consumed. We also have a large fleet of ECO + tower lights with photometric sensors and timers so the machines switch on and off autonomously, again reducing operating times and fuel consumed.
Where do you see the sector heading?
LN: Many organisers are putting generators into their fleet and offering a ‘one-stop-shop’ with other services. Whilst the cost to the client might be favourable, when something else goes wrong the back up service and knowledge is often not there. Looking ahead, organisers need to be more aware of the importance of accreditation.
RD: Leads have increased by 25 per cent within our existing client base as organisers look to achieve carbon reduction and more efficient use from their equipment. It is vital to give organisers the opportunity to understand where to start in terms of fuel and carbon management to make informed decisions for their future events.