Power

 Overview

The Power Team is focused on engaging with and educating the Burning Man community about how to right-size and implement energy conservation* strategies, and how to transition from using generators to renewable power systems that are suitable for use at Black Rock City in support of the Burning Man Project's 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap goals.

*Conservation means "a careful preservation and protection of something especially: planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect" (Merriam-Webster).

Safety Is Our Highest Priority!

Vision: Our Dreams for BRC 2030

BLAST Ideal: Camps generate 100% of power needs from renewable energy systems that can be deployed back into the default world.

Mission: How We'll Get There

BLAST Focus: Migrating towards more efficient power usage and renewable energy generation.

GTCC - Power Team WWWO.pptx

Safety First

Black Rock City is located in Pershing County and the county adopts the 2017 edition of the National Fire Protection Association's National Electrical Code. The code is highly technical, and it is intended to be used by electrical system professionals and safety inspectors

Theme camps that lack sufficient expertise in designing, installing, operating, and maintaining electric power systems at Black Rock City should consult with licensed electricians to keep their camps safe.

Ways to Get Started:

Black Rock City renewable energy proponents generally recommend that camps should incrementally convert from using generators to renewables in bite sized steps. That way camps can adapt over time instead of possibly having to endure an expensive shock if they invest heavily in a new system that doesn’t work. 


Introduction to Renewable Power

Renewable Energy Systems Suitable for Use at Black Rock City

You can choose to purchase a complete off the shelf system, or build your own system. Solar panels are the most popular type of renewable power generation at Black Rock City. Wind turbine generators can also be an excellent power source if safely installed and maintained. Either way, success begins with education. The RAT believes strongly that the first step in designing and building a successful system is to have a basic understanding about how renewable energy works.  

Solar Power 101 - Online Course

The online Solar Power 101 course covers how to analyze, design and build solar power systems. The lectures are broken down into bite size, self paced, modules. Each video module is about 10 minutes long. If you are interested in additional information you can click on the Dig Deeper buttons for a deeper dive into solar. At the end we have a Q&A session to help wrap up the lecture.

SOLARPUNKS 2022 Energy Case Study

At Burning Man 2022 the SOLARPUNKS collected solar regeneration + energy consumption data for their 100% solar powered theme camp and summarized the data in the SOLARPUNKS 2022 Energy Case Study.

How To Do Camp Electrical Load Analysis - Online Course

This course is for Black Rock City camps in general but it is also geared for the BLAST criteria. An electrical load analysis or electrical inventory is a baseline to help understanding the camps electrical usage. This opens the door to become more energy efficient and that, in turn, helps reduce air pollution and our carbon footprint. Once understood it is a simple process to do.  Also, it's the first step in building and acquiring a solar or wind power system.

How To Do An Electrical Energy Inventory For Your Camp by Bruce Cooper

How much electrical power does your camp consume? What size generator or solar power system do you need? Can it power a refrigerator, freezer, lights, or sound system? What other devices will your campers need to power, such as 2-way radios, water pumps, or electric bikes? What else? How much will it cost to power everything? How can I reduce my carbon footprint?

2024 Camp Symposium

Sustaining & Surviving with Solar-Hybrid Power on Playa

Electricity powers our life on the playa, yet the rain in 2023 and dust in 2022 reinforced our need to be prepared for anything. This session will focus on how hybrid power for camps and artists — combining solar, batteries, and generators — can provide safe and sustainable energy in any weather. Topics include lightweight yet rugged multi-use solar structures, portable battery systems, and minimizing fossil fuel generators.

2023 Camp Symposium

Power: Using Less While Living Large

Sustainability is an important focus for many camps. However, many don’t know that you can reduce your power usage and carbon footprint without materially reducing all the good things generators and their electricity provide. Hear from our experts on how solar, LED’s and other technologies can help you have your cake and eat it too.

Solar Powered System Estimator

You can complete a system or installation electrical load analysis to determine the desired system capacity for your camp.

Solar Powered System Estimator User’s Guide by Doug Hanson

This user guide is intended to help the novice or mid-level builder use the Solar Powered System Estimator spreadsheet (currently v2.4). The spreadsheet will help the builder to quantify their solar power needs in a step by step fashion and ultimately output the key system parameters of a system design based on those figures. This guide will take you through each section. 

Burning Fuels Carbon Dioxide Emissions Calculator

This easy-to-use calculator can help you estimate carbon dioxide emissions, or reduction of emissions, from burning gasoline, diesel, kersosene, propane and wood.

Burning Man 2023 “Animalia”

Did theme camps increase the use of renewable energy resources to power their camps at Black Rock City? We do not know. Renewables still only made up a small fraction of the electricity used to support the City’s power needs. 

Try finding solar panels in this aerial photograph of Black Rock City taken on August 31, 2023 by Jamen Percy. 

Here is a sample of what the solar panels look like in the photograph (red arrows) 

Thousands of recreational vehicles, travel trailers and hundreds of theme camps still exclusively relied on generators to power air conditioning, refrigeration, lighting, and sound systems.

Transitioning from generators to renewable energy on the playa can be challenging and expensive. The artists, theme camps, the Burning Man Project’s Department of Regeneration, and the Solar Power Team who all work diligently to switch from generators to renewable power should be commended for their efforts. 

Director of the Department of Regeneration George Reed asks "How do participants come together to find solutions collectively?" George provides the following about what happened at Animalia:

In addition to generating electricity the Unicorns provided shade and a rest area or meeting space. During the Burning Man event air conditioning is the largest electricity power draw and a significant increase in solar shade structures would help to reduce the need for air conditioning and generate electricity at the same time. 

The Unicorns are an excellent teaching tool that shows the capabilities of portable solar power systems that can be used at Black Rock City for several weeks each year and then moved and redeployed to power other infrastructure needs the remainder of the year.

Watch Our Talk About Power

Burning Man: Green Theme Camp Summit - Power

GOING SOLAR by Profiles In Dust

The Burning Man Project aspires to power the infrastructure and art of Black Rock City via energy from the sun by 2030. Organizations, camps, and artists are heeding this call, engaging Black Rock City and neighboring communities as a testing-ground to research and develop ways to harness and utilize solar power, not only during the annual event on playa, but throughout the rest of the year. As they learn to power The Man, The Temple, camps and MORE, emerging systems, networks, and best practices mark this endeavor to make Black Rock City a carbon-neutral model for future civilization.

Discover More 

Burning Man Generators and Electrical Systems

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Renewables for Artists Team

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