A London street will soon be powered by your feet

A stone’s throw from our immaculately “tidy” Alphr desks is Oxford Street, one of the busiest roads in the world. I don’t go there much, it’s horribly busy, but the pounding of shoppers’ feet is an awful lot of wasted energy that renewable energy start up Pavegen are eager to harness.

A London street will soon be powered by your feet

Oxford Street is something of a big ask though, so the company in starting with a road off of it: Bird Street. That’s here, Google Maps fans:bird_street_pavegen

It intends to trial a new version of its energy-generating flooring on Bird Street, creating electricity from the power of shoppers’ feet. It will also be featured in the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford.

The new tile, the company says, generates five watts per step, which is saved, or passed on to local devices, such as streetlights. Given the average bulb needs 60 watts for an hour’s usage, it doesn’t take many steps to power an entire street, without calling on the national grid. It can also collect footfall data to track locations, which the company says could be used by retailers to study how customers move through the shopping space.paving_energy_green

When a person steps on the tile, it moves a barely perceivable five milimetres. Weight from the step rotates a wheel underneath the tile which generates energy via electromagnetic induction. The new version of the tile generates 20 times as much power, due to its triangular design. The previous square design had just a single generator ‘sweetspot’, while the new version has a generator on each corner.

“Pavegen could play a key role in the smart cities of the future,” Pavegen CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook told Power Technology. “Imagine if people walking, running and jumping could help power the lights and applications in our stadiums and cities.”

The Westfield Centre and Bird Street won’t be the first areas of London to benefit. Heathrow has some in place, and the 12 tiles on the walk to the Olympic Park generate enough energy to power West Ham tube station’s lights for five hours each night.

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