Turning Footsteps Energy into Green Electricity

In his February 2016 TED talk, former US vice-president discusses the current state of global warming (see Video 1). During the latest decade, temperature climbed to values never reached before. Extreme violent events such as Hurricane Katrina became even more frequent. However, Al Gore is optimistic: the amount of green electricity produced by CO2 free means such as solar panels and wind turbines is dramatically increasing. But, we aren’t there yet, and we need to have as many people as possible take action! This post is the first of a series aiming at spreading the word and highlighting innovative and potentially game changing solutions to fight the global warming.

Video 1: “The case for optimism on climate change” – Al Gore TED talk, Feb 2016

We already know that by walking instead of riding a car, we contribute to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas, while improving our health. The UK startup PaveGen have introduced an extra reason to encourage people walk: generate electricity! The secret? Tiles that harvest the kinectic energy we produce while walking and turn it into electricity (see Video 2). This is achieved through a hybrid solution that combines the piezoelectric effect and induction. Each step pushes down the tile by few millimeters, which produces about 5 Watts. Multiply this by hundreds of thousands, or even millions in some public places such as shopping malls, and we get a mini-renewable energy power plant.

PaveGen tiles is an interesting alternative to solar and wind generated electricity. This is true not only in streets where buildings shade makes solar panels of little use, but also indoors where solar panels and windmills are not an option. Over 100 projects, developed between 2009 and 2016, showed the viability of this solution in very different places, such as: school corridors, subways, sidewalks, sport fields and festival dance floors.

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Video 2: How to Turn Your Footsteps Into Energy – Laurence Kemball-Cook – TED Talent Search 2012 @ London

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