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Fact Check-Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage – where Greta Thunberg delivered climate speech – powered by biofuel, not diesel

Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, where Greta Thunberg delivered a speech at the start of the 2022 British festival, was solely powered by biofuel, organisers said, dismissing claims on social media that it was powered by diesel generators.

A picture of the 19-year-old climate activist addressing the crowd has been circulating on social media, along with a caption that reads: “So I stand before you today in Glastonbury preaching the climate gospel on a stage powered, lit and amplified with massive diesel generators.”

One Facebook post has been shared hundreds of times (here).

Other versions can be found here, here, here and here, where Thunberg was repeatedly labelled a hypocrite.

HOW THE PYRAMID STAGE IS POWERED

A spokesperson for Glastonbury Festival told Reuters via email that the claim about the stage being powered by diesel generators “is not true”.

“The Pyramid Stage was run fossil-fuel free at Glastonbury 2022. The stage was entirely powered by HVO fuel – free of palm oil – helping reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90%,” they said.

HVO stands for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil. It is a biofuel that can originate from vegetable oils such as rapeseed, sunflower, soybean and palm oil, as well as animal fats (bit.ly/3NwlRei).

A ‘Sustainability One Sheet’ distributed prior to this year’s festival outlined that the main outdoor stages – Pyramid, Other, Park and West Holts – would be “run fossil-fuel free over show days”.

Other environmental credentials listed in the sheet included: banning the sale of single-use plastic since 2019; introducing the sale of crisps in compostable bags in 2022; using a fleet of electric vehicles to transport artists between stages; and powering the festival’s offices – as well as some production areas and battery systems – with a 1,500-metre square solar PV array and an anerobic digester, which turns cow poo to clean energy.

HOW GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL IS POWERED

A spokesperson for Greenpeace UK – one of the festival’s leading charity partners – told Reuters via email that most of Glastonbury’s electricity uses mains power from a renewable supplier.

“Glastonbury has a 100% renewable energy contract where it purchases certificates of renewable sourcing to cover its uses,” they said.

The spokesperson then explained how the system works for anyone who is on a 100% renewable tariff.

“In practice, all electricity generated goes onto one national grid – together with the electricity generated from fossil fuels or nuclear – and Glastonbury would be taking their power from that grid when not available from their own sources, such as the large solar farm. So, in terms of tracing the physical movement of energy through space, the electricity they are using could have come from any source.

“But, because of Glastonbury’s contract, the utility (energy company) must buy a certificate of origin from a renewable generator to cover the electricity used by Glastonbury Festival. Therefore, although the electricity is effectively ‘mixed up’ during delivery, the amount of renewable electricity on the grid corresponds to the amount of renewable electricity paid for by customers (such as Glastonbury Festival).”

They added that the festival was also powered by solar, wind and recycled cooking oil – a sustainable but limited energy source – whereas diesel generators are used as back-up.

“The total CO2e emissions from the electricity used are 15.66 tonnes, and the diesel generators cumulatively produce just under one tonne of that. The main use of diesel on site is for transport,” the Greenpeace UK spokesperson concluded.

VERDICT

False. Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, from which Greta Thunberg delivered her climate speech at this year’s festival, was powered using biofuel, not diesel generators.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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