Theatr Brycheiniog is established as a green champion in Wales. It became the first solar-powered theatre in the country, generating a proportion of its energy requirements through photo-voltaic cells on its roof and was one of the first to install energy-saving LED lighting on stage. The theatre is committed to finding ways of reducing its carbon footprint further and is working with other venues in Wales, in conjunction with Creu Cymru, Cynnal Cymru Sustain Wales, Cardiff University and Julie's Bicycle on a new sustainability initiative Emergence-Eginiad.
In order to create Wales' first solar powered theatre, Theatr Brycheiniog worked within the framework of the Department for Trade & Industry's Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2 where organisations could apply for 50% of the cost for installing approved micro-generation technologies.
Theatr Brycheiniog secured the funding from the DTI and was successful with its applications to the Scottish Power Green Energy Trust and Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainability Fund.
The Low Carbon Partnership based in Machynlleth in mid-Wales - formed in 2006 by Dulas Ltd and Sundog Energy Ltd - installed the solar cells in the summer of 2008 and the theatre began generating its own electricty in September of that year.
The 11,960 watt peak photovoltaic renewable energy system produces approximately 8,970 units of electricity per year and saving 5,095 kg of CO2 per annum. This energy yield is the equivalent of running a kettle continuously for 125 days or running 20 Dell PCs with LCD monitors for 637 days.
In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, Theatr Brycheiniog saves money by using the electricity it generates and receives a guaranteed payment through the feed-in tariff scheme.
The theatre was successful in attracting high levels of funding because all parties recognised that the building could have a role to play in educating children and the public in the importance of renewable energy. The venue has continued its commitment to a programme of environmentally themed theatre and certain children's events are branded as 'solar-powered theatre'. In addition, an integral part of the installation is a monitor fitted in the theatre's foyer to log how much electricity is being generated at any time.
In 2011, twenty COLORado™ Batten 72 Tour fixtures were added to the theatre’s lighting rig for a multitude of applications, such as front, side, cyc and overhead lighting. The LED-fitted fixtures joined the existing rig of half-LED, half-incandescent lighting sources.
The use of LEDs has made a marked improvement in regards to power consumption and heat generation. LEDs have helped to create a cooler environment for the actors on stage. Significantly, they have reduced the theatre’s overall expenditures as they draw far less power and enjoy significantly longer life.
Emergence-Eginiad is a partnership developing a movement for change within the arts in Wales to put the arts at the centre of the necessary process of cultural change as we face the enormous existential threats of the twenty first century; climate change, the end of cheap oil, the massive loss of biodiversity, water stress and a growing global population.
Cynnal Cymru has convened a partnership involving Creu Cymru, Cardiff University and Julie’s Bicycle to address sustainable development in the context of the built environment and theatre estate. The project will support theatres developing more sustainable strategies and practice with regards, in particular, energy, waste and transport.
Venues and arts centres are at the heart of their communities. Through participation in the Emergence project, they are both safeguarding their own interests and also providing a local cultural leadership role in a process that anticipates and responds to unprecedented global change.