SCU Sunflower to solar-power one of the first Australian music concerts for 2016

Published 24 December 2015

SCU Sunflower
Flower power will be on display at the Woodford Folk Festival, with the SCU Sunflower powering one of the first music concerts for 2016 at the New Year Sunrise Ceremony.

The Sunflower, the University’s solar-powered audio system, will be set-up at the iconic Hilltop stage where world music performers will welcome in the new year from 4.15am on Friday, January 1.

"It’s great that the Sunflower will be solar-powering one of the first Australian music concerts for 2016. It’s symbolic of the rapid development of practical sustainable energy technologies around the world,” said Dr Barry Hill, lead investigator on the Sunflower project and lecturer in music.

“When we launched the Sunflower in 2013 there was no other system like it. In the past three years companies like IBM, Google and Tesla have invested heavily in the technology that is revolutionising the way we generate electricity.”

Since its launch at Bluesfest in 2013 where it powered the Lotus Palace, the Sunflower has been showcased around the country at arts and music events highlighting its capacity to generate electricity, including the Sydney Vivid Festival, Brisbane WOMEX World Music Expo, and the Lismore Arts vs Science Festival. At each festival the project has been operated by SCU students as part of their audio technology studies.

During the Woodford Folk Festival, the Sunflower will showcase some unique data monitoring software developed by the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences in conjunction with local computer software developer Kim O’Sullivan of Makina Systems.

“Using inexpensive Raspberry Pi computers, this unique communication system allows us to wirelessly and remotely communicate with the Sunflower generator and to project the energy use data information onto video screens so the bands and the audience can monitor how much energy the music is consuming - and how much the Sunflower is generating,” Dr Hill said.

Using this same computer system, Dr Hill has designed an innovative sound installation where the music is controlled by the sun.

"Woodford Folk Festival and the Queensland Folk Federation are super keen to incorporate solar and sustainable energy and understand the way that festivals and the music industry can be used to demonstrate new and creative solutions to environmental issues,” said Dr Hill.

"If we had a few more solar Sunflowers then we could run entire festivals from mobile solar energy generators that are easy to install and require no maintenance, incur no fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions.”

As well as installing and monitoring the SCU Sunflower system with a group of student volunteers at Woodford, Dr Hill will be talking about the project’s evolution at the GREENhouse venue on Sunday December 27 at 2.25pm in a presentation called ‘The Sunflower Solar Audio Project’.

Photo: Dr Barry Hill (left) and a student with the SCU Sunflower.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.