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Oregon Festival to Power Stages with Hydrogen

Taking place this week, Pickathon will use experimental Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator to power stages.

pickathonHappy Valley, OR (July 31, 2023)—Based outside Portland, OR, the annual Pickathon festival has aimed to become a Zero Emissions event ever since it was founded in 2010. This year’s edition, taking place August 3-6 will see the festival move closer to that goal as it becomes reportedly the first-ever music festival to use a hydrogen fuel cell generator to power stages.

The hydrogen fuel cell generator is a proof-of-concept unit that was originally created during the pandemic by a small group of engineers at Toyota Racing Development (TRD USA) with the support of Toyota’s Fuel Cell Solutions Group. Treating the effort as an after-hours project, their aim was to start the decarbonization of Toyota’s off-grid activities including motorsport, sporting events, vehicle launches and so on (TRD USA is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America). The results were encouraging enough that at the start of 2023, the project became a TRD division called Emerging Technologies, based in TRD’s headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA, and the proof of concept generator has been put to work at events throughout the U.S. Emerging Technologies reportedly has a road map to create more clean energy products.

How the TRD USA Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator works.
How the TRD USA Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator works.

The 50KW generator is based on hydrogen fuel cell technology developed for the Toyota Mirai road car, and will make its music festival debut at Pickathon, powering multiple stages and equipment. The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator utilizes only hydrogen gas and oxygen from the surrounding air and reportedly outputs no harmful emissions, just clean air and water. The machine makes little noise and emits no smoke, vibration, combustion, or hot exhaust into the atmosphere.

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“We’ve been excited about zero waste and zero emissions for years now,” says Zale Schoenborn, Pickathon’s founder, in a statement. “Zero emissions is a much harder goal because of the extensive power needs of a major festival. With the hydrogen fuel cell generator, we now have the technology needed to make festivals zero emissions events. We’re demonstrating this for the first time for a music festival ever and are incredibly proud of this partnership.”

TRD USA Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator
TRD USA Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generator.

Pickathon was hand-selected by TRD USA as the first music festival to premiere the hydrogen fuel cell generator because of the festival’s reputation for developing internationally adopted green festival practices. Since 2010, Pickathon has been pushing towards a zero waste, zero emissions ethos for the festival. To achieve zero waste, Pickathon has nearly eliminated plastic and all single-use dishware in favor of reusable and rewashable cups and dishes. To achieve zero emissions, Pickathon incentivizes biking or taking mass transit to the festival, uses solar power on select stages, and redesigned the entire festival last year to incorporate stages into the natural cycles of the day, reducing emissions from set-up, breakdown, and equipment installation.