Power walking: London's Pavegen uses footsteps to generate electricity

Company's tiles convert kinetic energy into off-grid electricity and data

Pavegen kinetic energy tiles
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At the 2024 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, it’s possible to use your footsteps to generate electricity, and in turn, power software that will help plant mangrove trees.

The flooring technology is being promoted by London-based renewable energy power generation company Pavegen, which has the tiles installed in more than 37 countries.

“There’s an electromagnetic generator underneath the tile, and when you step on it, the downwards motion of the footstep spins the flywheel within the electromagnetic generator,” explained Farah Rashid, a sales executive for Pavegen.

“The rotational energy is then converted into off-grid electricity.”

The company acknowledges that while the tiles generate a “relatively small amount of electromagnetic energy”, 3 to 5 joules per footstep, the installations have been able to illuminate LED street lights, charge small devices, and even help irrigate wall garden installations.

Ms Rashid said the model on display at the World Future Energy Summit is customised to use data from footsteps to interact with software which helps to fund donations to plant mangrove trees in the UAE. There are many ways the data can be used to inform, educate and help with various philanthropic causes, she added.

At Zayed International Airport in Abu Dhabi, the company also worked with Masdar City in 2019 to install tiles that linked terminals 1 and 2 and powered monitors showing the real-time creation of energy using footsteps.

“Our goal is engagement,” she said. “We want people to be educated on environmental issues and we want people to interact with the built environment around them as well as other people … we want them to be involved.”

Pavegen says its tiles have been used in Washington near Dupont Circle to power LED lights, and in locations around UK transport hubs that help power monitors and mobile phone charging stations.

“We have them all over malls, transport hubs, and public places with a lot of foot traffic,” Ms Rashid said.

One of the largest installations was at the 2013 Paris Marathon, where 176 tiles were placed to utilise the footsteps of the racers along the finish line on the Champs Elysee.

The data from footsteps can also be customised to create different games and interactive experiences.

The tiles were invented by Pavegen founder and chief executive Laurence Kemball-Cook, who described the opportunity to help support the UAE’s mangrove planting initiative as a “milestone”.

Pavegen was founded in 2009, and most recently received $2.1 million from equity crowdfunding, according to its LinkedIn profile.

The company said it is also in the process of launching Pavegen Solar+, a tile system that “combines the power of solar energy with kinetic electromagnetic energy generated by footsteps”.

It is aiming for the solar hybrid tiles to be available this summer.

Updated: April 18, 2024, 12:37 PM