The Power Team is focused on engaging with and educating the Burning Man community about how to transition from using generators to renewable power systems that are suitable for use at Black Rock City, and how to right-size and implement energy conservation strategies to move theme camps towards reaching 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).
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: Does your camp track the amount of non-renewable fuel used on playa?
Ways to Get Started:
Skill Sharpening Sessions
A link to a Solar Powered System Estimator
Links to Instructional Documents
Links to the Renewable Energy Burner Symposiums
You can choose to purchase a complete off the shelf system, or build your own system, 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. We encourage everyone who is new to using renewable energy for powering their installations to first complete the RAT's 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.
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.
At many weekly Renewables for Artists Team weekly meetings the team records a Skills Sharpening mentoring session.
As of August 2023 there are over thirty sessions available for viewing.
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?
You can complete a system or installation electrical load analysis to determine the desired system capacity for your camp.
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 Man 2023 “Animalia”
Thousands of recreational vehicles, travel trailers and hundreds of theme camps still exclusively rely on generators to power air conditioning, refrigeration, lighting, and sound systems.
Transitioning from generators to solar or wind energy on the playa can be challenging and expensive. The artists, theme camps, and the Burning Man Project’s Solar Power Team who all work diligently to switch from generators to renewable power should be commended for their efforts.
Here are some transition methods that were employed at Burning Man 2023
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.
Generator/Battery "Hybrid" Mix – High-capacity batteries can be used to reduce the amount of time generators need to run. The generators support the camp’s power needs and charges batteries at the same time. When the batteries are charged the generators shut down and the camps are then powered by the batteries. During build week when Tropical Storm Hilary rained on Black Rock City the Burning Man Project's infrastructure was powered entirely by batteries for about 48 hours when no air conditioning was needed. This 800-pound battery was charged by the background generators.
Bite Sized Solar - Many camps are incrementally transitioning to solar and may use solar for the first time to power, say, refrigeration. Seeing how that works helps the camp community to figure out how to increase capacity in the future and someday power all their electricity needs with renewables. This is a new solar power system at the Black Rock Tea Company camp and it powered all of the camp's electricity needs except for air conditioning.
Mega Bite Sized Solar – The Burning Man Project’s Solar Power Team deployed three large scale Unicorn solar array and battery systems that powered portions of Center Camp, the entire builds and event week use of the Temple of the Heart, and the Man this year. The project’s goal is to continue to add Unicorns so that the project’s infrastructure energy needs will be solar powered. This was the Center Camp's Unicorn solar power installation.
Watch Our Talk About Power
Burning Man: Green Theme Camp Summit - Power
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.
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.
These Hive recordings are taken from the Renewables for Artists Team's hosted symposium featuring 12 speakers who covered solar power related topics such as the Burning Man Project's innovations, art and camps using renewable energy.