Access All Areas | April 11, 2022 | Christopher Barrett
Live from Mexico in the people-powered Energy Zone of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour, Tim Benson, Chair of Powerful Thinking and Energy Consultant on Coldplay’s current tour, updates us on the tech and innovation which allows energy from fans to be converted, via kinetic dance floors and pedal bikes, into power for the show. As well as spotlighting the remarkable clean tech solutions, and the expertise required to maximize system outputs for this stadium-ready portable mini-micro-grid, Tim also celebrates the innovation of the band themselves, who have pushed the boundaries to engage fans in a hitherto untried way.
It’s 16.30 hours at the Foro Sol stadium, Mexico City, as the blistering sun mercifully begins to descend. Suddenly, some 26,000 fans, old and young, sprint into view, vying for the best vantage points to take in the sensory delights of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour (MOTS) spectacular. Strangely, though, there’s also a hive of activity downstage midway between the final delay towers, where fans are furiously pedalling on bikes and leaping around on raised platforms.
‘Is he mad?’ I hear you ask. Definitely not, in fact I’m privileged to say that I’m part of creating this unlikely melee of activities.
This is MOTS Energy Zone, an area dedicated to people-power, where the electrical team, under the guidance of Head Electrician Paul Traynor, cunningly harvest energy from the movement of Coldplay fans. The two raised platforms are, in fact, kinetic dancefloors courtesy of Dutch firm Energy Floors. As fans bounce around to the bass lines of House of Pain’s Jump Around, their movement produces energy, which then charges a series of Wattsun battery packs. Similarly, the 12 bikes are fitted to Kinetic Effects’ PedGen bike stands, incorporating DC motors, which can produce hundreds of watts each. The energy generated by the bikes is stored in a SMART Power 50kWh battery system, which in turn inverts and distributes AC power to the ‘C-Stage’, a circular structure where the band play an intimate set surrounded by adoring fans.
If you look closely at the risers surrounding the delay towers and behind the stage, you’ll also see solar canvasses provided by US company Pvilion. These rapid-deploy PV panels charge batteries that feed an inverter providing energy to the LX in the stage underworld. Back of house, you will also find a mini-solar farm that provides a 100% renewable charge station for the Wattsun battery packs & docks. These portable battery solutions are being used for a range of applications, including stage backline, LED lights, video control racks & DMX buffers.
However, the most remarkable thing about the Energy Zone is how it all dovetails: These aren’t plug and play solutions that naturally knit together, they have to be constantly optimised and tweaked to maximise system outputs. Energy and power data has to be captured, relayed to the venue screens and reported back to the band’s sustainability director and team. In many ways, it’s the ultimate renewable energy mix, a portable mini-micro-grid incorporated into a stadium touring set up – no mean feat I would say.
The innovation of Coldplay themselves, and the willingness of their production and touring crews to push the boundaries like they have never been pushed before, is clearly paying off. Not only are they championing remarkable clean tech solutions, but they are also engaging fans in a hitherto untried way – more of this please touring industry!
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