Inspired by their subject matter, a BBC Natural History Unit team spent a day making a short film about the sun for The One Show using almost nothing but solar energy. Production team, presenter Marty Jopson and crew were all up for the challenge which used some of the latest solar PV technology.
To get to the filming location without using fossil fuels, presenter Marty Jopson pedalled for 10 miles on a solar PV powered electric bike on loan from Sheffield Hallam University.
The crew travelled in electric cars – a Nissan Leaf and a Mitsubishi PHEV – both of which had been charged up using a solar PV powered car port - one of the first in the country - at the Solarsense HQ in Backwell near Bristol.
The 55 batteries that powered the camera, sound kit and solar telescope that was used to get big close up images of the sun were all charged with solar energy. The camera batteries were charged up ahead of the shoot using solar panels on the roof of Solarsense’s offices. During the shoot, all the batteries were topped-up with power from flexible solar PV panels supplied by BAE Systems.
The production team had to be very organized, planning ahead to snatch as much power as possible from any available sunshine. As soon as they’d arrived on location - cameraman Mark Payne-Gill’s observatory - the team set up their portable solar PV kit to top up batteries. The solar kit comprised flexible panels on a rigid frame which could be oriented directly in line with the sun for maximum rays. Bright sunshine wasn’t necessary – lucky because there was some cloud cover on the day – but when it’s cloudy, battery charging takes more time. So, the team had to plan ahead.
Once filming in the observatory was over, presenter Marty ended the day by serving some well-earned dinner for the crew – a bowl of soup cooked on a solar powered camping stove. While sipping tepid soup (the solar cooker didn’t work all that well…), Marty marvelled at the fact that everything filmed that day had been powered by a star 93 million miles away.