Thijs Haenen from Geldrop has a special barrel organ that runs on solar energy. Last weekend he performed with it for the first time in downtown Eindhoven. According to him, he is the first organist in the Netherlands to use solar energy in this way.
A barrel organ makes music when a kind of punched tape with openings is pulled through the instrument. This used to be operated manually by turning a wheel by hand. Nowadays it is done electrically. Often with a battery, but Thijs did it with a generator.
“The story goes that the Municipality of Eindhoven wants everything emission-free in the city centre from 2025. Then I can not stand there with a straight face with my gasoline aggregate, even though it consumes almost nothing. I was already working for a year to come up with something on that”.
But that’s not the only reason. “I also just enjoy doing this. I work in engineering and studied at TU Eindhoven. I like being involved with the latest technology. I had been investigating for a long time and last month the puzzle pieces suddenly fell into place”.
For a moment he feared someone else was ahead of him. “A fellow organist in Groningen said he already had solar panels on his organ. But that turned out to be a 1 April joke. Then I thought: nobody will believe that I am serious about this anymore. But fortunately that didn’t turn out to be so bad”.
“It’s about a ready-made foldable solar panel”, he explains. “You can just buy that at the store. When I go into town with my organ, I put them on top. I also have a battery pack that I put on the cart. It is portable, too”.
The panels are two metres long and fifty centimetres wide. They fit exactly like a roof over the organ. And another advantage: you no longer hear noise between songs.
On sunny days, the solar panels provide about two-thirds of what the organ consumes in energy. “With that, I can keep it going for a very long time. And when the sun is not shining, I can still play ten to eleven hours on the batteries. Even for the winter that’s enough, if there is no sunshine”.
Translated by: Bob