How about this for smart technology? Pedestrians around the world could soon generate energy simply by walking to work or taking an afternoon stroll, thanks to ‘kinetic pavements’ that turn footsteps into electricity.
London-based startup Pavegen has developed a special energy-harvesting tile – made from 95% recycled tyres – that flexes by 5mm when stepped on, resulting in up to 8 watts of kinetic energy over the duration of the footstep. Enough tiles and enough footsteps can create enough energy to be stored in batteries, or to help power streetlights and other electrical items.
Each tile also boasts a unique proprietary wireless communications technology that uses only 1% of its power to transmit data about the number of footfalls and energy generated. This means city officials and business owners can see how many people are passing through each area, and then make smart decisions about the way that power is used.
The technology has already appeared at some pretty important events. Last year, 12 tiles were installed along the walking route to the Olympic Park. Pavegen estimated that over the course of the Games the tiles would harvest energy from more than 12 million footsteps, generating 72 million joules of energy – enough to charge 10,000 mobile phones for an hour! The electricity was put to more communally beneficial use though, powering the lights in nearby West Ham station for five hours each night.
More recently, the tiles were installed over a 25-metre distance at the start point of the Paris Marathon, as well as around spectator viewing platforms and other key points along the route. Over the course of the event runners and bystanders generated nearly five kilowatts of electricity, enough to power a laptop for 52 hours, drive an electric car for 15 miles or light up a village in a developing nation for an entire day.
It’s not just big events that are benefiting from pavement power, either; the Simon Langton Grammar School in Kent has a permanent Pavegen installation in its halls, harvesting power from the footsteps of its 1,100 students. So does Rednock School in Gloucestershire. And in London, one office has installed the technology in its main entrance, with the footfall from workers available to view live online.
Pavegen ultimately hopes to make the tiles as affordable as regular floor tiles, and to see them installed in offices, schools, pedestrianised areas and public spaces around the world.
The technology has come under some criticism because, well, it’s not as powerful as conventional electricity sources. The average person will walk 150 million steps in their lifetime, and in theory, that would only be enough to power the average family home for three weeks. Doesn’t sound great, does it? But combine all the steps of all the people on the planet, and then we’re talking about making a serious contribution to sustainable energy. And as natural resources get lower and energy prices get higher we’ll certainly need all the help we can get. Now, where did we put our running shoes?
OVO Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879
Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.
1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount. All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas). All rates correct as of 23/08/16, but may go up or down.
3Pay Monthly Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYM OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location.
We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.
33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.
3% interest: Calculated at 3% per year, paid monthly based on number of days in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. OVO Interest Reward is capped at 12 times the amount of the current direct debit amount and is available to customers paying by advance direct debit. Terms apply: http://www.ovoenergy.com/terms/
95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Based on all new customer signups between 01/02/2016 and 31/07/2016
94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Britain's top rated energy provider: Britain's top rated energy provider in the Which? 2015 satisfaction survey. Survey conducted in October 2015. Awarded in January 2016.