PAVEGEN: An Innovative Solution to Create Energy

Innovation created by: Laurence Kemball-Cook

Presentation written by: Tiphaine CUISSET, tiphaine.cuisset@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

 

1. THE INNOVATION

It all started in 2009 when founder and future Chief Executive Officer of Pavegen, Laurence Kemball-Cook, a 24-year-old student at Loughborough University at the time, was researching “off-grid energy solutions.” 8 years later, Pavegen is the worldwide leader in generating energy from human movement. The company has since its creation installed its products in more than 150 locations all over the world. It describes its vision with the following words:

Our vision is for smarter, more sustainable built environments which empower and connect people.  From climate change to rapidly expanding cities, we face complex environmental and social challenges. Our technology enables people to directly engage with clean energy, to increase their understanding of sustainability issues, and to connect purposefully with brands.

 

The innovation consists in a flooring made of very specific tiles. When someone walks on these tiles, their weight produces five watts per step. The energy is created thanks to electromagnetic induction. The renewable electricity can then be used to “power low-voltage off-grid applications such as street lights.” New tiles have been designed around a year ago. They are now triangular and harvest 20 times more energy than the old tiles which were squares and their problem was that you could generate energy only by walking on the center which means their edges weren’t used. The new tiles have generators at each of their corner so now not one footstep is wasted anymore. They can illuminate the path you are walking on, or can be used by companies to power interactive messages and advertisements for examples.

The new tile

Source: pavegen.com

The old tile

Source:  copybook.com

 

But generating electricity is not the only thing that Pavegen’s technology can do. There are two others functionalities as important as the first one. One of them is collecting data from footfall and the other is the ‘smart-flooring’ aspect of the tiles.

 

2. TWO OTHERS FUNCTIONALITIES

2.1. Collecting Data

Pavegen collects data from every footstep, as stated on their website:

 

Each tile is equipped with a data transmitter to capture wireless information from every single footstep.

 

Footsteps can be converted as a digital currency which then can be used to donate to charities for exemple. Moreover, Pavegen is able to analyze consumers’ behavior and track every step made by the consumers. It can consequently predict the most important locations and peak timings. Finally, it can count how many people walk in a specific area.

 

2.2. “Smart-flooring” solutions

First of all, Pavegen’s flooring goes beyond international safety standards. The slip resistance is very high during the complete life cycle of the tiles. Pavegen also enables a ‘seamless integration’ to any inside or outside location thanks to their four possibles types of tiles. The surface of the tiles can furthermore be customized in any way according to the customer’s wishes or to mirror their brand and identity which allows then for advertising spaces. Finally, it is a smart floor in that not one footstep is wasted, as previously explained.

 

  1. A RESPONSIBLE INNOVATION: EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS

It is obvious that this technology is a strategic and responsible innovation as it is a renewable energy and consequently minimizes the harm done by humans to the environment. But what more can it do in terms of responsibility and contributing to a better society for example? Below is listed and explained three projects and events, both temporary and permanent, which have been organized using Pavegen’s technology. This is a non-exhaustive list as a lot has been done since 2009.

 

3.1. Phone charging at Bestival 2011

Bestival is a summer-music festival which takes place in Dorset. During the 2011 edition, nine Pavegen tiles were put into place. They were used by the festival-goers to charge their phones. It was Pavegen’s first major experiential event. The tiles recorded more than 250 000 footsteps and charged more than 1000 mobile phones during the festival.

 

3.2. WWF Earth Hour in Singapore

Earth Hour is an annual and worldwide event where global citizens are invited to switch their lights off for an hour. Pavegen along with WWF organized an even called “Dance 2 Power Earth Hour” and installed a 48-tile dance floor which powered a “graphic of the Earth Hour 60+ logo that filled up as energy was created.” Moreover the wireless technology inside the tiles recorded the steps and converted them as tweets, displayed on big screens in order to prompt people to keep up. The tiles were connected to the twitter account of WWF, enabling their 1,54M followers to keep up to date with the energy creation. According to Pavegen’s website, this event “encouraged people to start thinking about the impact of energy on a worldwide scale.”

 

3.3. Favela Football Pitch

The first two projects I have presented were temporary events, but Pavegen also completed permanent projects all over the world, in places such as : train stations (one train station in the north of France is equipped with the technology), airports (Heathrow) or shopping centres. One of their major construction was a football pitch. In partnership with Shell for its #makethefuture campaign, Pavegen decided to build a football pitch in the Morro de Mineira favela in Brazil. 200 tiles were needed to construct it, these tiles store the energy created by children as they run on the pitch to use it once the night falls. This project received media coverage in more than twenty countries and was supported by the football legend Pelé. Pavegen now hopes it will “inspires an entire community through sport, by supporting bright energy ideas.”

 

CONCLUSION

Despite the high cost of this technology (the price for one tile is around 400 dollars and its life expectancy is about five years), this number is regularly decreasing and will continue to do so in the future as it will be more and more used. Laurence Kemball-Cook knows his technology cannot just by itself be the solution for renewable energy (as the energy produced is still low) but is confident that combined with other renewable energies such as solar panels and windmills, it can allows a sustainable development.

 

References

Pavegen. “Our Vision” Pavegen, the next step, 2017, http://www.pavegen.com/about/

Pavegen. “Data/Floor/Energy” Pavegen, the next step, 2017, http://www.pavegen.com/what-we-do/

Pavegen, “Pavegen Products” Pavegen, the next step, 2017, http://www.pavegen.com/products/

Guiragossian, Emmeline. “Pavegen : des dalles qui produisent de l’énergie sous vos pas !”, Fioulreduc, Oct. 06, 2016, https://www.fioulreduc.com/blog/innovation-energie-dalles-production-electricite

Galeski, Julie. “Pavegen utilise vos pas pour éclairer les villes”, Widoobiz, Nov. 23, 2016,

https://www.widoobiz.com/entrepreneurs-startups/pavegen-utilise-vos-pas-pour-eclairer-les-villes/76158

Wanshel, Elise. “Tiles That Generate Energy When People Walk Over Them Are Totally Lit”, Huffington Post, June 23, 2016, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pavegen-tiles-generate-kinetic-energy-electricity-footsteps_us_576aba9be4b065534f487a79

Tixier, Guillaume. “Pavegen éclaire le football”, Faites le plein d’avenir, July 07, 2016, http://www.faiteslepleindavenir.com/2016/07/07/pavegen-eclaire-football/

Manthorpe, Rowland. “Pavegen’s power-generating floor is coming to Oxford Street”, Wired, May 11, 2016, http://www.wired.co.uk/article/pavegen-tile-power-generation-london

Brueck, Hilary. “In Washington, DC, People Are Using Their Feet To Turn On The Lights”, Forbes, Nov. 18, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/hilarybrueck/2016/11/18/pavegen-energy-generating-sidewalk/#952f88c78da8

Heilpern, Will. “Meet the clean-tech CEO who compares his company to Apple and Tesla”, Business Insider, Apr. 14, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/pavegen-kemball-cook-ceo-interview-2016-4/

Balch, Oliver. “Power generating tiles pave the way to renewable energy breakthrough”, The Guardian, Aug. 16, 2012, https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/power-generating-tiles-renewable-energy

Pavegen. “Pavegen”, LinkedIn, 2017, https://www.linkedin.com/company/870862/

Pictures from:

  • pavegen.com
  • https://www.copybook.com/news/energy-gathering-floor-tiles