May 7, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Burning Man takes on green tech

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The idea is that the solar equipment will produce enough extra energy for the town to get energy credits to give to MMA to help pay for the solar array.

Price estimated that the donated solar equipment will produce around a third to a quarter of the town's total energy output at no cost to Gerlach.

Burning Man also teamed up recently with the Sierra Pacific Power company to give Gerlach residents new compact fluorescent light bulbs to replacing residents' old incandescent bulbs.

"The key to solving the energy crisis is first conservation, then innovation," Price said. "So in Gerlach, we're helping people to save energy first, and then we're building green electronics."

Ultimately, Burning Man and its partners in the green energy projects are hoping to make Gerlach the first town in the United States, if not the world, to produce more energy than it uses.

Price is also excited about Mason's Mechabolic, which is described on its Web site as "a large-scale bio-imitative installation of hydrocarbon-based fuel production, transformation and consumption."

Burning Man participants will be able to feed Mechabolic garbage as it "slithers across the desert."

The site also indicates that "all ingested trash will be converted to clean biomass foods/fuels," and "the Mechabolic will re-ingest the resulting foods/fuels to power its own locomotion as well as a variety of high altitude fire effects."

Price also touted a project called the Single Cell Solution (PDF) by an artist known as Dr. Friendly. This is designed to take exhaust from generators and feed it through a bed of algae, which eats the carbon dioxide, secretes an oil, and produces biodiesel that is then fed back into the generators.

As part of this project, Burning Man is switching its fuel supply for the hundreds of generators necessary to power various projects from diesel fuel to biodiesel from french-fry cookers in Reno.

And to Price, the ability to bring all of this green technology together in one place is something that will hopefully have a widespread effect.

"Creating this world's fair of emerging technology in front of 40,000 of what are clearly early adopters, tech-savvy, networked people--it's like a super-rich bed of compost for ideas to germinate in," Price said.

For Harvey, the green theme is a chance to show the world that Burning Man is serious about its many altruistic philosophies.

"It will affect nearly everything we do and can lead to a dramatic effect or transformative effect, and we're betting on transformation," Harvey said. "We're betting that in 10 years' time, the culture we've created will have met Main Street and will be alive and thriving in hundreds or thousands of places. And people needn't necessarily come to the event."

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I guess it's a start.
Now, if they can just do something about the half-million plus gallons of fuel needed by people and trucks to Get to the event each year...
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
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It's trickle up
The amount of harmfull fuel for transportation to the event will evolve into less fuel and cleaner fuel by the green theme of the event and the altruism of the events participants. So yes they are doing something about the harmfull/wasteful fuels that it costs to even gather people of like minds who are activly doing something about the process.
Posted by thebumboys (53 comments )
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better places to start
At least we're working on it.

Meanwhile, how many gallons of petroleum are consumed traveling to Disney, or even just your local movie houses?

Also, turns out the Burners who left the event and went directly to the Gulf Coast after hearing the news about Katrina were very effective contributors to the disaster response. Seems that something about surviving in unstructured anarchy translated well to the hurricane aftermath. Maybe we should just consider it a better training investment than FEMA's budget!

Check out &lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>&gt; for more about the Katrina relief project...
Posted by OldTimeFlamer (4 comments )
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What about reducing Marijuana smoke emissions?
Not likely at this festival of techno-bohemian bacchanalia.
Posted by felgercarbnaysay (49 comments )
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What about the trees they burned?
Exactly what point are they trying to make when they burned all the trees. My guess is they used petroleum to start the fires. I really don't get how they can point the finger at everyone else when they are contributing to pollution and excessive use of natural resources themselves.
Posted by wiley14 (39 comments )
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I think Burning Man is probably able to coordinate a more systematic analysis of the environmental costs and benefits, in and outside of the event ( is a start). A lot of smart people attend; if greater awareness (along with communal enjoyment) is one of the event's objectives, then this should be prioritized. Can't the event be a leader in coordinating responsibility (and accountability) for its impact - both positive and negative? I think it could.
Posted by stiltboybob (1 comment )
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