Solar Sunflower brings renewable energy to Byron Writers Festival

Published 4 August 2017
Solar Sunflower Solar Sunflower (rear) made its Byron Writers Festival debut in 2013

The SCU Solar Sunflower is returning to the Byron Writers Festival this year to power Southern Cross University’s Student Reporting Team media tent with renewable energy.

The University’s creative writing, arts and digital media students have been an integral part of the Festival since 2010. Working from the onsite newsroom, the Student Reporting Team produces content for the Byron Writers Festival Blog including stories and session reviews, photographs and tweets. 

“Students get the opportunity to build confidence and skills as they work on their writing in a fast-paced, real-time environment. The Festival also provides them with exposure to and contact with publishers and writers to see how achievable these goals are,” said Dr Lynda Hawryluk, writing program course coordinator.

“I am excited and proud to see our students operating in all aspects of the Festival, from volunteering to production to planning events and getting involved at the grassroots level. They gain valuable experience in the field.”

This year the media tent’s power needs are sourced solely from the SCU Sunflower, Australia’s largest solar-powered audiovisual production system.

“People think a Marshall speaker stack uses more power than a toaster. In reality, a two-slot toaster draws as much power as around 10 Marshall stacks. It’s no longer the case that festivals need to rely on diesel generators to provide their power,” said Dr Barry Hill, lead investigator on the Sunflower project and lecturer in music.

Since making its debut at the Byron Writers Festival in 2013, the Sunflower has appeared at festivals and events across the country, solar-powering stages, lighting and audio systems and generally educating the public about the possibilities of renewable energy.

“It’s become clear that because of the rapid change in technology used with festival production systems and the increase in the energy efficiency of that technology, that solar-power and other forms of sustainable energy are becoming much more of a feasible cost-effective option,” Dr Hill said.

“We’re keen to talk to festivalgoers about how the Sunflower works and what it’s capable of powering and share some of the data we’ve gained over the last three years.”

Southern Cross University, a long-time supporter of the Byron Writers Festival, will host 19 sessions in the Southern Cross University Marquee, including Jimmy Barnes, Tony Jones, Nikki Gemmel and Peter FitzSimons.

Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker will chair two sessions: Indigenous Storytelling: 60,000 Years and Counting (Saturday August 5 at 4pm) and Offshore: Stories from Behind the Wire (Sunday August 6 at 2pm).

Other University writers, academics, scientists and alumni will be chairing sessions or participating in the conversation across the Festival weekend. Among them are Dr Lynda Hawryluk, Professor Peter Harrison, Dr Jim Hearn and Zacharey Jane.

Dr Gregory Smith, a social science lecturer, will launch a book exploring homelessness, No Fixed Abode – Stories from the streets around Byron, on Saturday August 5 at 4.15pm. Dr Smith spent a decade in the bush living as a hermit prior to starting a degree at Southern Cross as a mature-aged student and has written the book’s foreword.

New writing degrees on offer from 2018 are a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing and Bachelor of Laws and Creative Writing.

Media contact: Sharlene King 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349