Clean energy productionSustainable infrastructureSustainable urban development

Street energy – Part 1: Footsteps

Walking you through Pavegen’s smart flooring system

Have you ever thought that while you are walking you are producing clean energy? Pavegen is able to harvest footsteps’ kinetic energy and convert it into electricity thanks to its smart-flooring system, while collecting valuable data at the same time.

Pavegen was founded by Laurence Kemball-Cook in 2009 and it is based in London. The company’s flooring system consists of arrays of triangular tiles, which generate power when compressed by footsteps. Tiles are made of steel, recycled aluminum and composite, and their shape is intended to optimize the overall system’s performance.

Pavegen installation on Washington D.C. Coutesy of Pavegen
Pavegen installation on Washington D.C. Coutesy of Pavegen

Each footstep taken on the current version of the system generates 5 watts of power. Many people walking on the tiles continuously would, of course, multiply the amount of energy generated, which is typically used to power low-voltage applications as e.g. street lights, ambient music generation, air purifying systems or environmental-monitoring sensors. Excess energy is stored in batteries, to be made available, for instance, to turn on lights at night.

A relevant by-product of the flooring system is data. Tiles are equipped with data transmitters, which ‘capture wireless information from every single footstep’. Information is used to elaborate (anonymous) consumer patterns and footfall hotspots, but also to reward users by letting them see on a mobile app the amount of energy they generated. And by the way, the system communicates with users’ smartphones thanks to low-power bluetooth beacons, which are powered by users’ footsteps themselves.

The system relies on the volume of pedestrian traffic to become profitable, so it is usually installed in places where this is constant and high, like popular streets and shopping malls. Pavegen’s system can be found for instance in Bird Street in London, at the Mercury Mall (East London), at the Heathrow airport, but also in more unusual places, like a football field in the Morro Da Mainera favela in Brazil and another one in Nigeria, both rebuild in partnership with Shell. The former was also used by Shell to launch the #makethefuture program, promoting ideas and actions aimed at producing and using energy in a more sustainable way.

Recent installations comprise ‘smart city developments, retail destinations, sports stadia and education institutions in Hong Kong, India, Korea, Thailand, UAE, UK and USA’, while partnership and clients include Abu Dhabi International Airport, BNP Paribas, Ellandi, Google, Siemens. Pavegen’s latest model won the 2017 Smart Cities Interactive Innovation award at South by Southwest and the 2018 UK PropTech award for social impact.

Pavegen brings first people-powered football pitch to Nigeria. Courtesy of Pavegen.

How to support

  • Pavegen is currently raising investment on Crowdcube, a crowdfunding platform: pitch page (capital at risk).
  • If you live close to any of them, or if you happen to pass by, have fun on the latest Pavegen’s installations!
  • You can follow Pavegen on          
  • You can support Pavegen even by simply sharing this article on your favorite social networks. Spread the word!

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