Live from Mexico in the human-powered Energy Zone of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour, Tim Benson, Chair of Powerful Thinking and Energy Consultant on Coldplay’s current tour, fills us in on the technology and innovation making it possible to harness energy from Fans convert, via kinetic dance floors and pedal bikes into force for the show. In addition to highlighting the remarkable clean-tech solutions and expertise required to maximize system performance for this stadium-ready portable mini-micro-grid, Tim also celebrates the innovation of the band themselves, pushing the boundaries to create the Getting fans excited to get involved is a previously untried route.
It’s 4.30pm at the Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City as the scorching sun mercifully begins to set. Suddenly around 26,000 fans, young and old, sprint into view, vying for the best vantage points to enjoy the sensual delights of Coldplay’s spectacular Music of the Spheres World Tour (MOTS). Curiously, though, there’s also a hustle and bustle halfway between the final delay towers in the background, with fans pedaling wildly on bikes and jumping around on raised platforms.
‘Is he crazy?’ i hear you ask Definitely not, in fact I may say that I’m part of this unlikely jumble of activities.
This is the MOTS Energy Zone, an area dedicated to human power, where the electrical team, led by Lead Electrician Paul Traynor, deftly harvests energy from the movement of Coldplay fans. The two elevated platforms are actually kinetic dance floors courtesy of Dutch company Energy Floors. As fans hop to the bass lines of House of Pain’s Jump Around, their movement generates energy, which then charges a series of Wattsun battery packs. Similarly, the 12 bikes are mounted to Kinetic Effects’ PedGen bike racks, which contain DC motors each capable of generating hundreds of watts. The energy generated by the bikes is stored in a SMART Power 50kWh battery system, which in turn converts and distributes AC power to the ‘C-Stage’, a circular structure where the band play an intimate set surrounded by adoring fans.
If you look closely at the risers around the delay towers and backstage, you’ll also see solar tarpaulins made by US company Pvilion. These quick-to-deploy PV panels charge batteries that feed an inverter that powers the LX in the underworld of the stage. Behind the house you will also find a mini solar farm that provides a 100% renewable charging station for the Wattsun battery packs and docks. These portable battery solutions are used for a range of applications including stage backline, LED lights, video control racks and DMX buffers.
What’s most remarkable about the Energy Zone, though, is how it all fits together: these aren’t plug-and-play solutions that naturally fit together, they need constant tweaking and tuning to maximize system performance. Energy and performance data needs to be collected, fed to the venue screens and reported back to the band’s sustainability director and team. In many ways it’s the ultimate mix of renewable energy, a portable mini microgrid integrated into a stadium touring setup – no easy feat I’d say.
Coldplay’s innovation themselves, and their production and touring crews’ willingness to push the boundaries like they’ve never been pushed before, is clearly paying off. Not only do they champion remarkable clean tech solutions, but they also delight fans in ways never seen before – more of this, please, Touring Industry!
This guest blog appeared in the Vision: 2025 newsletter.