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Power to Speak Out: 100% Renewable for Greta Thunburg’s Bristol Rally

Vision: 2025 caught up with Johnny Palmer, owner of Pytch (formally known as SXS) to find out about his part in providing 100% renewable power for Bristol Youth Strike for Climate at the now legendary Greta Thunburg Rally in February 2020, which saw thousands of Climate protesters gather on Bristol’s College Green. Thanks to Pytch the power was sourced from solar powered batteries making it free, silent and with zero carbon emissions.  

With a strong track record of producing events for corporate clients, Johnny has been a champion of sustainable event practices for many years. Notably through the company’s SolCell racks, powered by their own solar farms, which allows them to offer deployable, solar powered battery system for events.

When Bristol Youth Strike for Climate, requested event professionals’ support for the Greta Thunburg Rally, Johnny stepped in to donate Pytch’s services in support of the climate strike. Here Johnny explains the logistics in his own words:

“Anticipating a strong turn-out, given Greta’s global profile and appeal, the organisers, Bristol Youth Strike for Climate, requested event professionals support, to create a safe event for the School Strikers, with the lowest possible carbon impact.

“We donated our services in support of the climate strike. From day one starting a company I have believed in standing for what I believe in, and the climate is at the forefront of my consciousness. Pytch was delighted to supply the sound coverage for the entirety of college green, along with staging, media break-out, crew and radio comms.

“I was particularly keen because it gave us visibility to showcase sustainable power running a pa system large enough to cover an audience of 30,000. I don’t believe that audio for a 30k+ audience has ever been done from renewables – so this was a major achievement!

“In the run up to the event our SolCell batteries were charged from our solar panels. We supplied a number of 9 killowatt hour cells and 10killowatt inverters to power the audio. That made the power generation silent, with no emissions and virtually cost free to run.

Our main challenges on the day came around the lack of planning or permissions that we’re used to seeing around an event, such as for site exclusive access to set up. Our crew had to get there at 4am and work on site with volunteers, some of who had very limited experience to be working under such a tight time constriction.

All of the technology we used was tried and tested and comfortably within our core capabilities.  The technology had been well tried and tested in the R&D process, and that preparation means that we can always focus on delivering a great show and having fun!

For organisers looking to use solar powered batteries who maybe unsure about whether they can be relied up on, I would say, ‘Know that it DOES work’, and that this event is proof of that.   It is quieter, cleaner and, I would say, more reliable than diesel generators.

“The time is NOW to move away from fossil fuel generators – if people take a global view of their power use profile, they can design a solar powered, battery system that can be relied upon for any sized event.”

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This blog originally appeared in Vision: 2025’s December 2020 newsletter. Sign up receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox using the form below.