Taking Steps Toward Clean Energy

One UK firm is out to prove that the future of world energy is just footsteps away
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What if I told you that the future wasn’t in the palm of your hands so much as it is actually in the heel of your foot? UK innovations firm Pavegen is out to prove just that. The brainchild of CEO and founder Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen’s mission is to spread their innovative energy solution across the world. With installations in London, Washington D.C., Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, France, Melbourne, South Ham, and the 2012 Olympics in West Ham, the firm is certainly on their way.

What Is It?

Pavegen’s technology involves the use of tiles attached to a generator. Every time a step is taken on the tile, it turns a generator which yields kinetic energy. Five watts continuous power from footsteps, to be exact. This energy is then sent to a battery and stored. The more footsteps, the more energy, and when coupled with a well-trafficked environment, one can imagine how much clean energy can be produced. Pavegen technology can also be used in conjunction with solar panels, making for an even stronger energy production and storage possibility for renewable electricity.

Data

Beyond the potential for creating renewable electricity, Pavegen’s tiles can also be used for data. Imagine the analysis of finding out how many people walk through a certain area, and what times of day or season are most heavily trafficked. Data could show business owners how much foot traffic they receive on a street in a given day. In addition to monitoring consumer behavior, consumers could monitor themselves with an app-based technology like Fitbit. Footsteps could be rewarded with digital currency or sponsored coupons and discounts based on the amount the user traveled that day. In this sense, technology might directly have an effect on human behavior, or at the very least could offer up some insight as to pedestrian habits and patterns.

Where Is It Going?

Pavegen have developed a Smart Controller system that also adds versatility to the technology’s potential. This controller can use the energy to make bird sounds, for example, or turn on the lights, as we found in Pavegen’s Bird St. installment. In addition, the lights next to the installment light up at night.

Taking the concept even further, when teamed with a solar panel, Pavegen’s installment in Rio de Janeiro actually lit up an entire soccer pitch thanks to the energy of the players on the field! Most recently, Pavegen partnered with Google for an installment at the 2017 Berlin Festival of Lights. The installation spans some 26 square meters, making it the largest energy harvesting walkway in existence. While the technology currently is built to handle the harsh conditions of city life and pedestrian behavior, it would be interesting to see if the technology can also expand to handle bicycles, or even cars and trucks. If you can generate 5 watts of power from continuous footsteps, imagine the potential power derived from a half-ton pick-up truck or an 18-wheeler? Pavegen founder and CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook is on a mission to install a million tiles worldwide, and insists that while the world is taking notice, Pavegen’s current installations are merely the first steps toward the innovation’s global potential.