By Sangeeta Haindl | 21 July 2013
(3BL Media/Justmeans) Have you heard of energy harvesting? It sounds as if there must be fields and farmers involved. Well, it is neither, but instead involves sweat, dance floors, rubber sheets and heavy breathing. The term means drawing power from what is happening naturally in the world around us. It about energy production methods of the future. It is set to change the way that we use devices such as mobile phones, laptops, lights and other gadgets and seems human footsteps playing a significant role in solving the world’s energy problems.
Meet Laurence Kemball-Cook, a passionate, 27-year-old, London-based entrepreneur who owns Pavegen Systems, one of many companies that see a bright future in energy harvesting. Pavegen produces floor tiles that generate electricity through being walked on. The combination of the weight of the person and a 5mm movement in the tile is used to generate an electrical current. It is intended for places with lots of people passing through, such as railway stations, shopping centres, offices and public buildings. It has already been tested at some high-profile venues, including one of the main transport hubs for the Olympic Games in London last year.
More than one million people walked over Pavegen tiles as they passed through West Ham underground station en route to the Olympic Park, generating the power required to keep the station’s lights on. Pavegen also created an energy self-sufficient dance floor. Dancers generated the electricity needed to run the event jumping around on the tiles. Lawrence Kemball-Cook says, “This isn’t just about niche one-off applications. It is about permanent installations where you have got high footfall that can power commercially viable applications. We’re looking to scale up and industrialise our product. We see our technology as a key component in the smart cities of the future.”