People as Energy Source

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could create energy by just performing our everyday activities? This is not a mere dream, it is already possible. In 2009 the idea was presented for the first time: an energy generating tile. Pavegen creates just that, energy generating tiles, producing energy every time someone steps on it. Even though the tiles only produce 5 watts per step, I believe this new form of renewable energy can play a vital role in future energy generation and save our Earth.

These energy generating tiles can be used everywhere people walk. Areas bustling with life are great sources of energy, think about office buildings, train stations, airports, schools, restaurants and sports grounds. People spend many hours a day walking around, travelling from A to B. There is no need for them to change their behavior. For an idea on how the tiles produce energy, please watch this video. The tiles have other capabilities as well. For example, they can gather data on how people move in a certain area. The data gathering possibilities is interesting for many companies interested in behavior. The tiles are relatively new, so there is still a lot of room for improving their energy producing capabilities. If the tiles are improved and placed with many in a lively area I am sure they can become an acknowledged energy source. Saving on your energy bill by just playing soccer, that’s killing two birds with one stone.

naamloos

Shell soccer pitch, Nigeria, using energy generating tiles

This sounds very nice, but there are a few downsides. The tiles don’t produce much energy yet. Financially placing the tiles is also a tough decision to make, as a single tile still costs £600 per square meter. However, the producer aims to sell the tiles at almost the same price as regular tiles in the future.

The municipality of Leiden, the Netherlands, wants to be 100% energy neutral by the year 2040. Meaning the want to produce as much energy as they use within their own borders. This is an admirable goal and a tough challenge. There is only so much that can be done within the boundaries of the municipality. There is not enough room to start very big projects within a city. Perhaps the energy generating tiles will not be very profitable at this point, but I would advise the municipality of Leiden to keep an eye on this renewable energy source. For now I hope they can get as far as possible with reaching their goal by using existing renewables. Hopefully a part of Leiden’s need for energy can be covered by the movements of its own population in the future.

Whenever we think of renewable energy, we often think about wind turbines and solar panels first. However, I don’t think we can become energy neutral by just using those two methods. We need other methods like geothermal energy and hydropower. I hope people will come up with more innovative ideas, such as the energy generating tiles. In this new age where climate change is a huge threat to mankind, it is of great importance to switch to renewable energy as fast as possible. We need to protect our Earth and our future, but we only have limited time.

 

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5 thoughts on “People as Energy Source”

  1. This is a really cool idea and a bummer it is still pretty expensive with relatively low amounts of energy. Do you know the price comparison (as well with energy difference) between this and a solar panel or wind turbine? Because I would assume those are pretty pricey, which would make 600 pounds relatively cheap, and if put in a really busy place could get a return pretty fast I bet. Super cool!

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  2. I happened to do some research on the same topic lately and opposite to what you propose I came to the conclusion that it might actually be a goof idea for Leiden to start installing pavegen tiles. Certianly not as main project to reduce fossil fuel based energy, but for public awareness and support. The example you named where you can play soccer to lower your own energy bill shows how strong the involement and connection of people to sustainable energy suddenly gets by the use of those tiles. From what I see that is exactly what we need in the energy debate at the moment. Awareness of sustainability issues leads to more sustainable behaviour and if we really want a large scale change in energy use/generation we need every single person to not only support but also actively participate in the solutions. Furthremore, the scale and, therefore, the price of a pavegen project would be easily adjustable to the municipalities budget and low risk. In sum, a low investment for a large gain in awareness.

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  3. I really love the idea of using people as an energy source. However I don’t believe the amount of energy that is created would be nearly enough to compete with other sustainable sources let alone fossil fuels, it will be a nice way to raise awareness for sustainable energy and make it more interactive!

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  4. Good idea to use a kinetic energy source generated by humans ! It makes them more aware of sustainablitily and i think it is also good to see people move a bit more. As people in western and also developing country’s are getting lazier, using more energy and getting fatter. It would be nice to spin this circle the other way around. By letting people ‘move’ for their energy ! Loose pounds, gain watts !
    Other than the tiles, I think there are a lot more ways of getting energy Maybe you can have a look into that aswell ?

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  5. This reminds me so much of Solar Roadways (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU), which isn’t feasible at all. However, this concept sounds a bit more realistic but it’s still far from being practical. 5 watts, or even somewhat less, would probably be enough for some minimal LED lighting for small areas without otherwise reliable light/ power. Another thing is the (perhaps weird) experience of stepping on it, do you constantly feel a clicking or somewhat a spongy response? Doesn’t sound pleasant to play sports on such surface.

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