Michael Eavis, the man behind Glastonbury, one of the world's most famous music festivals still on the go, has just unveiled the U.K.'s largest solar power plant—on the top of his cowshed. The 1,116 panels generate enough power to run 40 homes for a whole year, and will earn the farmer around $97,000 per annum. When building the cowshed seven years ago, he had to factor in the weight of the panels—20 tonnes.
The "big statement," as he calls it, has long been the dream of this veteran of four decades' worth of muddy musical and pharmaceutical happenings. "We had to make a major statement because we use so much power. This has brought us one big step closer to our goal of operating the farm as ecologically as possible."
A farmer all his life (he inherited Worthy farm from his father, and is the fourth generation of Eavises to live there), the Glastonbury site is a working agricultural concern for 362 days of the year (every fifth year, the festival goes on hiatus to give the land a rest). For the remaining three days, 100,000 revelers turn up, with 200 diesel-powered generators to keep the show on the road.
The 1,500 square meters of solar panels won't be enough to run the festival on its own—the man in charge of Glasto's power needs, Bill Egan, reckons just six generators will need to be jettisoned—they would need between 50,000 and 100,000 square meters for that. "You'd lose a lot of camping space for that. I think my job is safe for a while."
Festival aside, the panels on top of the Mootel, as the cowshed is known, should be able to provide around 80% of the farm's electricity demand, exporting the rest to the national grid, and is expected to save around 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Eavis and his team, however, are still scratching their heads about how to further improve the farm's carbon footprint, with solar panels on marquees and urine two of the front runners. Piezoelectric dance floors wouldn't be a bad bet, either.