Renewables for Artists Team
Foreground Solar Installation at Ripple by Josh Vermette
Background RAT Solar Installation at The Empyrean Temple
by Laurence Renzo Verbeck, Sylvia Adrienne Lisse and the Temple Crew
The RAT is an international all volunteer participatory community group and we educate and mentor artists and others to move away from having to use generators to power their installations. We help artists who have no or little knowledge about renewable energy systems that are suitable for use at Black Rock City.
The RAT enables artists to address the Burning Man Project's 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap.
RAT's structure is that of do-ocracy. OSGeo Wiki defines it as “an organizational structure in which individuals choose roles and tasks for themselves and execute them. Responsibilities attach to people who do the work, rather than elected or selected officials." That said, the team has a leadership structure.
Doug Hanson "Radio" at Spacecats Final Landing
Hundreds of electric generators that burn gasoline and diesel fuels are used each year at Burning Man. While they have provided the electricity needed to power Black Rock City the generators produce noise, odor, air pollution and greenhouse gases. Also, generator operations can cause hazardous liquid spills on to the playa that require expensive cleanup. And, the generators are a health and safety hazard because they emit harmful air pollutants including carbon monoxide that can cause adverse health effects and even death.*
Generators in use at Burning Man 2022
The Renewables for Artists Team (RAT) was formed to assist artists to move away from having to use generators to power their art installations and helps artists who have no or little knowledge about renewable power systems that are suitable for use at Black Rock City.
by Josh Vermette
by Lindsey Fielding
Strategy - Who and What
The RAT is comprised of individuals who are concerned about the noise and air pollution the electric generators produce at Black Rock City. Their collective vision is a hands-on approach to moving Black Rock City towards using renewable energy sources as much as possible that will have a real and quantifiable impact on reducing noise, odor, harmful air pollution and greenhouse gases.
Tactics - How
The RAT's Technical Advisors provide hands-on education and mentoring to artists who want to transition from powering their art installations with generators to renewable power systems. The RAT assists artists with:
Completing an installation electrical load analysis or electrical inventory
Designing the system
Providing advice about the acquisition of system components
Troubleshooting the systems on the playa
Troubleshooting - “Giganty’s Boundless Energy Gadget”
Building - at the "Empyrean Temple”
Troubleshooting - “Spacecats Final Landing”
Despite a few rain events the Renewables for Artists Team had a smashingly successful time assisting artists at Burning Man 2023 “Animalia”
The team’s sixteen Technical Advisors mentored twenty-one artists who signed-up for help and many additional artists and theme camps who requested our help on the playa.
In this photo a very tired RAT leader and Technical Advisor Ken Rehor shows how the solar power system the RAT assisted with designing and building powered the Temple of the Heart.
RAT Technical Advisor Outreach
The RAT never slows down, and we are already looking forward to Burning Man 2024. To implement the RAT’s mission, the need to maintain the team’s capabilities, increase supporting artists and others and increase team diversity, the RAT desires to expand its capacity in educating and mentoring artists, and the Burner community, in transitioning from using generators to renewable energy resources.
Tales of Dreamers: Burning Man 2022
Set in Black Rock City 2022, this latest project from the International Wood Culture Society delves into sustainability initiatives in BRC — from Burning Man Project and from a variety of theme camps, artists, and participant groups. Through a series of interviews, “Tales of Dreamers” tells the story of how sustainability projects are coming to life in diverse and innovative ways, and highlights some of the technology being used to make it all happen.
Power: Using Less While Living Large
Sustainability is an important focus for many camps. However, many don’t know that you can reduce your power usage and carbon footprint without materially reducing all the good things generators and their electricity provide. Hear from our experts on how solar, LED’s and other technologies can help you have your cake and eat it too.
The Burning Man Project aspires to power the infrastructure and art of Black Rock City via energy from the sun by 2030. Organizations, camps, and artists are heeding this call, engaging Black Rock City and neighboring communities as a testing-ground to research and develop ways to harness and utilize solar power, not only during the annual event on playa, but throughout the rest of the year. As they learn to power The Man, The Temple, camps and MORE, emerging systems, networks, and best practices mark this endeavor to make Black Rock City a carbon-neutral model for future civilization.
The RAT thanks Terence Pratt and the Profiles In Dust media team for producing this important documentary.
BWB promotes activities around the globe that support a community's inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact.
How might theme camps come together to share best practices, form collective values, and design the future role of theme camps to make Black Rock City a sustainable (and regenerative) home?
BLAST is a green camp rating system that offers a framework for energy and resource efficient, environmentally conscientious, and regenerative theme camps. We provide an incentive to “Green Your Burn,” awarding camps and their members for successful sustainability efforts.
Burning Man Hive is a space for the Burning Man community and the Burner-curious to share their skills and knowledge, to learn from one another, and to support each other’s work in the world.
We think it’s wild that the world isn’t already running on free, abundant energy provided by the sun. To change that, we created SOLARPUNKS — an interdisciplinary ecosystem designed to help creative industries transition to renewable energy.
Black Rock Labs has been created to help bring Ideas and experience together to become scalable solutions for energy, habitat, water, food, creative reuse, infrastructure, transportation, communications, ecology, and all facets of living and experience that is Burning Man.
The nonprofit Burning Man Project and the global Burning Man community are working to make the Burning Man event in Black Rock City more ecologically sustainable. This web page summarizes sustainability efforts.
Burning gasoline and diesel fuel creates harmful byproducts like carbon monoxide that can cause serious injury and death to Black Rock City participants, nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde - all direct human health hazards.
In addition, generators emit carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas that contributes to global warning. Global warming has caused the worldwide and regional climates to change resulting in potential adverse affects to the environment, human health and safety.