Powering the Sydney Festival

Every January, Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. The 2016 Festival, was the biggest yet, celebrating 40 years of Sydney Festival.

The event organisers envision Sydney Festival to be the most sustainable major performing arts festival in Australia, including a strong focus on energy efficiency.

Having worked with Active Air Rentals for the last five years Mick Jessop, Production Manager, Sydney Festival knew that Active Air Rentals could provide the energy efficient turn-key power distribution and temporary air conditioning the 2016 Festival sites required.

‘Their pre-production advice and the attention to detail is hugely appreciated. It gave us one less thing to worry about as we knew that Active Air had it covered.’ Explains Mick.

With energy efficiency in mind, Active Air Rentals came up with strategies to use mains power at sites wherever possible, meaning the number of generators required to power the Festival was reduced and therefore minimised the amount of fuel used and emissions created.

To implement their strategies and ensure the maximum possible distribution of mains power, Active Air Rentals worked with Sydney City Council gaining approval to alter switchboards; this presented unique challenges.

“We had a couple of challenges with the power.” Explains Dom Cook, Project Manager, Active Air Rentals.

“Firstly, because we were using mains power, we had to install some exceptionally long cable runs out to the performance locations. The challenge with this is when you run cables; you experience voltage drop and the longer the run, the higher the drop in voltage. So we had to ensure the electrical calculations were correct so equipment wouldn’t overdraw and trip causing performance disruptions.”


“We easily used 20 different power distribution methods in Hyde Park alone.” Notes Dom. “Splitters, 400amp distribution boards and single phase distribution were just some of the methods.”

The event was a great success, the equipment at each site ran without fail, and the Active Air guys provided around the clock service for the duration of the Festival.

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