Unlike the permanent panels that are placed on residential rooftops, event marketers often have to set up and tear down solar panels at their events. One way to minimize the labor is to put the panels on top of a touring vehicle to collect energy during the drive. Captured solar power eliminates the need for backup generators, which are used to power on-site electricity.
“The solar panels don’t generally power the actual vehicle, they charge the battery we use at events to save money on electricity,” says Matthew Glass, ceo at New York City-based Grand Central Marketing, which is working on a solar-powered experience for Robert Mondavi’s wine tour next year.
There are a few practicality pitfalls to consider, however. Staffers may have to lug around heavy batteries weighing 30 to 100 pounds (a car’s motor usually weights 20 to 40 pounds). Price also plays a factor. “Price is driven less by space and more by how much power you really need,” says Sean Schulte, vp-experiential marketing at Atlanta-based CSE, referring to his solar-powered AT&T Earth Day display at D.C.’s National Mall in April. “If you want to power a sound system and video displays in a pop-up environment you’re going to spend $10,000 easily.”
For the Mondavi tour, Glass estimates the panels and batteries alone will cost about $70,000. But for an eco-conscious brand like Mondavi the investment makes sense. “The tour is about educating people about vineyards and the wine growing process, so it makes sense to run on solar, because it has a very earthy feel,” Glass says, adding that though it may not be the most practical or cost-effective method, it’s about positioning and being socially conscious for some brands.
In addition to the green halo effect solar power provides, brands that invest in solar-powered vehicles and exhibits can leverage the investment over and over again. In the green movement, reuse is a good thing.