Glastonbury Festival founder installs solar

Back in 2010 Michael Eavis could hardly have been more excited.

"It's fantastic. This is the best fun I've had here for ages," he said. "We had to make a big statement – and that is what we've done."

Eavis' statement is an "array" of 1,116 solar panels installed on the roof of the cowshed - nicknamed the Mootel. At unveiling it was believed to be the biggest private solar electric generating system in the UK.

The photovoltaic (PV) modules will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 40 homes annually. Power generated will be used, in the first instance, for Eavis' Worthy Farm and any left over will be fed into the National Grid.

Eavis said when launching the system: "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."

Much has been done already. Eavis and his team have built reservoirs so water does not have to be brought on site and linked into local sewerage systems so human waste does not have to be carted off. They recycle all they can and encourage people not to drive if they can help it. But on a busy night they need up to 15 megawatts of power to make sure everything runs smoothly. Eavis felt they were still "losing the argument" so when he built the new cow shed seven years ago, he made sure its roof sloped gently southwards and was strong enough to support 20 tonnes of solar panels.

He has been impressed by how easy it has been. The bank lent him most of the money and the government's feed in tarrif- a subsidy for small-scale renewable energy generation - has meant it makes economic sense to launch the project. He should earn £60,000 a year from the project.

Eavis's cow shed, which enjoys a fine view of the pyramid stage - skeletal at this time of year - and Glastonbury Tor in the far distance, now generates up to 200 kilowatts of power. It should also save around 100 tonnes of carbon a year. He expects to make the money he has invested back in nine years.

Phil Miller, the infrastructure manager for the site, said they were always on the look-out for new ways of cutting the festival's carbon footprint. "I heard about an idea of using urine to generate power. That could work for us. Or what about putting solar panels on marquees? We have to keep trying."

Eavis is already thinking about the future. "We've got the best festival in the world and the best solar power system in the country - so far. We've got to keep pushing, trying to do more." And with that he was off to make sure the panels were performing properly - and the cows beneath them were as content as he was.

(Acknowledgement for quotes to ‘The Guardian’ 10 November 2010)

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Glastonbury Festival - Here Comes the Sun