Powerful Thinking

Powerful Thinking Logo

Powerful Thinking is a think-do tank that brings together festivals, suppliers and environmental organisations to explore new ways of working which reduce costs and carbon through increased efficiency and alternatives, and share findings to promote a lower carbon industry.

It aims to provide clear guidance and resources to festival organisers about approaches to sustainable power and to drive a market for renewable energy supply at festivals, understanding and accounting for the business and cost restraints.

Powerful Thinking has its own website full of further information, case studies, and downloads at: www.powerful-thinking.org.uk

Powerful Thinking was inspired by Shambala Festival and Julie's Bicycle, and founded by a consortium including Bestival, Festival Republic, A Greener Festival, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Kambe Events and Firefly Solar. These organisations provided both the start-ups funds and impetus to drive this initiative forward on behalf the wider festival industry. Julie's Bicycle further support the group by providing the secretariat and support in-kind.

More recently the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), the Production Services Association (PSA) and the Nationwide [mobile] Caterers Association (NCASS) have joined the steering group. We also work with research partners; The Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) at DeMontford University, and the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University.


Steering Group Members


A Greener Festival Camp BestivalFirefly SolarFestival Republic Kambe Events

Association of Independent FestivalsShambala FestivalAssociation of Festival OrganisersProduction Services AssociationJulie's Bicycle

Why join?

As creative businesses in the public eye festivals can make a valuable contribution to the shifts needed to put society on a more sustainable path. We can reduce environmental impacts, innovate and promote good practice in our industry, and share ideas with our audiences. As businesses we also need to maintain profitability – managing resources more cleverly will be crucial in an increasingly volatile economic landscape.

Sharing knowledge and experiences as a festival community will benefit us all, and allow us to achieve our shared aims more quickly, and reduce environmental impacts more effectively. 

If you are interested in supporting or contributing to our work, please get in touch


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The Power Behind Festivals Guide

Launched in December 2012, 'The Power Behind Festivals' is a Guide to Sustainable Power at Outdoor Events.

Designed for promoters and festival organisers, the guide pools information gathered over the past 18 months by Powerful Thinking, including research undertaken at festival sites. The report aims to equip festival organisers with the knowledge, understanding, and basic tools they need to open and extend much needed conversations on delivering sustainable temporary power.

Based on initial findings, it is estimated that any festival, regardless of size, location, or theme, can save at least 10% on their energy bill by following the ideas within.

As with all our work, Julie's Bicycle is looking at how the learnings from one sector, in this case music festivals, can be transferred to other creative industries. We have already begun talking about this with the Green Theatre Network in relation to outdoor and site specific work.

The report is available to download here.


What's the history?

In spring 2011 the inaugural Power Behind Festivals Symposium brought together festivals and power providers to discuss cross-industry experiences of and attitudes to renewable power supply. This event identified many shared issues, a commitment to finding sustainable solutions, and a need for more research and action that would accelerate change.

In Autumn 2011 Julie's Bicycle conducted research with Sussex University mapping the current uptake of renewable power across the UK festival sector. This research showed that reneable energy - solar powered battery, temporary wind or pedal power - is meeting just ~0.026% of festival power supply demand, and waste vegetable oil (WVO) biodiesel is currently meeting 3-6%.


Powerful Thinking, originally operating as The Green Festival Alliance,  was formed to address these issues, aiming to increase awareness and knowledge about power, and encouraging and supporting innovation.