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Since its inception, the Hollywood film industry has been a cultural trend-setter. Now it is poised to take a lead in promoting renewable energy, with the announcement that James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will be filmed using solar-power energy and the productions will endeavor to be carbon neutral.

The two planned Avatar sequels will be filmed at the new Manhattan Beach Studios (MBS), which is known for its environmentally friendly design and features “an aggressive water conservation program, eco-friendly paints and cleaning products, sustainable café and craft services practices, and a number of programs to promote greener transportation by its employees.”

Cameron will personally cover the costs for installing a solar array which reportedly will provide all of the electricity needed to shoot and produce the sequels. The director told the Washington Post in August 2010, “These are things the studios need to be thinking about. When I do my next film, we’re going to go much farther than we did in terms of running a green set.” Cameron has also stated, “Some percentage of the presumably-massive Avatar sequel gross will go to charity. Fox has partnered with me to donate a chunk of the profits to environmental causes that are at the heart of the Avatar world.”

Public response to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive and has resulted in related businesses showing increased interest in the benefits of investing in solar energy. For example, Sun Center Studios, located just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is taking the spotlight as an up-and-coming, new age film lot. Its 216 kilowatt (kW) energy system ranks in the top one percent of solar projects funded by the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program.

Senior Vice President of Sun Center Studios Adam Rotwitt explains, “Sun Center Studios’ commitment to sustainability extends throughout the entire facility,” which he says includes “participation in smart-grid technology programs through integrated demand response and the installation of electric vehicle charging stations along with a fleet of hybrids for our production company clients.”

David Richman, Commercial Sales for Mercury Solar Systems, adds: “The solar incentives in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are some of the most generous in the country, making this an optimal time to invest. We commend Sun Center Studios for incorporating solar into their state-of-the art facility.”

Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will be released winter 2014 and 2015, respectively.

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