Guidelines for fair usage of power at Climate Camp 2008

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Climate Camp runs on renewables. These are a combination of solar panels and wind generators that generate energy that is stored in batteries. There is only a limited capacity in the batteries and hence only a certain amount of electricity can realistically be used for only a certain amount of time each day. The energy store in the batteries is replenished using the solar panels and the wind generators. If we have lots of sun and wind, then we can restore the energy as we go; but if it's overcast with no wind, then we'll have less ability to restore the power we have used and more likelihood of running out of it.

So as a general policy for the camp: there are a number of peak days where there will be many more people on site and when communications will be essential (during the two main days of action) and we should try to be as sparing as possible leading up to these days to enable us to have a flying chance of meeting the power requirements on the peak days.

The camp and power

The following chart is of the days of the camp and whether we should expect / permit light, medium or heavy usage:

Day Usage Max power Num hours Kwh
Sunday 3rd Light 200w 4h 0.8
Monday 4th Light 300w 4h 1.2
Tuesday 5th Medium 500w 6h 3.0
Wednesday 6th Heavy 600w 8h 4.8
Thursday 7th Light/Medium 500w 6h 3.0
Friday 8th Medium 500w 6h 3.0
Saturday 9th Very Heavy 800w 15h 12
Sunday 10th Medium 500w 6h 3.0
Monday 11th Light 200w 4h 0.8
TOTAL: 31.6Kwh

Fair usage

Power is a scarce and shared resource that we all should be respectful of. We have provided a limited number of plug sockets for charging, please use these for this purpose. If there isn't one available, please wait until there is. The power in the Be the Media / Media space will be prioritised for those needing to do active work for the camp and for providing limited public access at certain times of the day. The neighbourhoods should all have their own 240VAC power supply. If you really need to charge something, then please consider contacting your neighbourhood to see if you can charge it there. This will really help us by keeping the overall total load down.


Bristol Wireless have been kind enough to supply a suite of thin-client computers that run Linux and which will be good enough for low-end computing tasks, such as surfing the Internet (but not youtube), writing documents (using OpenOffice), off-loading photos from a digital camera or memory card and working on simple graphics and diagrams. A lot of hard work has been put into this suite to minimise the amount of overall power it consumes, whilst maximising the number of computers available; the more computers that are running, the more efficient the suite is. There will be 6 clients dedicated at all times to Be The Media and the Media Team, with another (up to) 12 being made available for short periods during the day for campers to catch up on the latest news and use email. Priority will be given for anyone who is either a part of the core Be The Media team or who is interested in being involved with grass-roots media.

If however you do need to use your own laptop, please follow the following guidelines:

  • Try where possible to use a laptop with a smaller screen than a larger. Keep the screen brightness as dimmed as is usable at all times.
  • Unless absolutely necessary try not to use processor intensive applications such as video rendering.
  • If you are not needing to use sound for your work, disable (mute) it.
  • Unless you really, really need to use the CD/DVD drive, don't.
  • If you have a choice of laptop, there are small laptops available (like the Asus Eee PC range) that use about half the power of a normal laptop and can be run directly on 12 volts. If your laptop will run on 12 volts, then you may well be able to get a simple 12 volt solar panel from somewhere like Maplins to charge it with.
  • When charging a laptop uses between 2.5 and 3 times the power than when it's not. Please do not use the facilities for charging up your laptop, to which end we ask everyone to remove their batteries from their laptops if using within the media space.
  • If you really need to charge your laptop please consider contacting your neighbourhood to see if you can charge it there.
  • If you can charge directly off 12 volts DC then all the better. You can purchase 12VDC laptop chargers from Maplins for a reasonable price.

Mobile phones

We have tried to provide some 12 volt charging for mobile phones, but we may not have all the adapters for every make and model.

  • Unless you really need the latest Nokia N93 8MB phone for your work, you're really better off with a cheap, low-function mobile that doesn't have a large colour screen and no camera. The battery in this latter type will last at least four to five days with average usage; and N93 will require daily charging.
  • If you can find a 12 volt car-charger and a battery to connect it to, then use this.
  • If you are using a laptop already and you have a cable to charge your phone off USB, then do this.
  • Unless you really need it on, turn your phone off at night to conserve battery power.

Video cameras

Here are a few tips for those with video cameras.

  • Try to use the larger batteries that last longer and require less frequent charging.
  • Please bring your charger with you. We definitely won't have the right charger for your camera.

Power status colour codes

During the camp, on the front of and inside the Be the Media tent we will have a colour coded system based on how good power availability is, this system is:

Colour Meaning Guidelines
Green All systems go, we have good power. You can use the power as you have arranged, but please do not charge your laptop without checking first.
Amber We have to be careful. We have to be careful or we'll run out of power. Check first and only plug-in if you really must.
Red Nearly out of power. We're in danger of running out of power and you must not switch anything on.