The future of energy generation could be in us walking through the city. At least two companies produce tiles and flooring systems that produce energy when people walk over them. These energy producing floors could play a role in answers to the question posed by the WDCD Clean Energy Challenge in Amsterdam: How can we embed clean energy in the Amsterdam cityscape?
Dutch start-up Energy Floors originates from the founder’s initiative to open the first sustainable dance club in Rotterdam in 2008. Club Watt attracted lots of attention with its energy generating dance floor, which converted the dancer’s kinetic energy into electricity. The dance floor was a big hit and the inventors started to rent the sustainable dance floors to festivals, trade fairs and exhibitions worldwide.
In 2014 the company added a Smart Energy Floor to the portfolio, a solar energy converting pedestrian floor that is rented and sold to a growing list of clients including creative agencies, corporates, governmental organizations, educational institutions, architects and public transport companies.
The tiles of this smart floor are equipped with walkable solar panels, converting solar power to sustainable energy. Motion sensors collect data about pedestrian movement across installation sites. The generated energy can be fed into local grids, but can also be used to power interactive LED lightning and signage.
A new product added to the portfolio is The Gamer, a smart energy floor that encourages active learning on school playgrounds. The floor challenges young children to play energetic games and learn about renewables at the same time. The Gamer consists of 9 walkable solar tiles and 1 kinetic tile. All tiles are equipped with sensored LED lights, that challenge children to play on them. To activate a game they need to step on one tile. The games encourage physical exercise, whilst the tiles convert solar power into electrical energy. This energy contributes power to the school’s energy management system.
Energy and data collection
Pavegen is a British counterpart of Energy Floors, founded in 2009 and promoting itself as ‘the global leader in harvesting energy and data from footfall’. Just like Energy Floors, Pavegen aims to engage people with clean energy and to increase their understanding of sustainability issues. Meanwhile, Pavegen focusses more on interactive data collection and using this data to provide people with purposeful connections with brands. Footsteps on a Pavegen floor can for instance be converted in digital currency or discounts.
Solar bicycle path
In the Netherlands, another company also experiments with solar roads with integrated solar panels, that generate energy. A consortium of road constructors, civil engineers, governments and the Dutch research organization TNO together form SolaRoad for the development of solar energy collecting road surfaces. The system recently was first tested in a bicycle path in Krommenie. Next year, the solar road surface will be tested on a bus lane in Rotterdam to test the system with heavy traffic.
All this seems to indicate that the next generation of pavement might be solar. Inspired? Join the Clean Energy Challenge with your fresh ideas for sustainable energy generation in the city.