Harvesting energy beneath our feet and over our heads
PUBLISHED: 14:36 31 May 2018
Pavegen combines kinetic and solar energy for gold at RHS Cheslsea Flower Show ‘Space to Grow’ section
Paving that creates energy from footsteps – with back-up from solar panels when not enough people are around – earned Pavegen gold medal success at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
“The Pavegen system uses footsteps as a resource,” explained Sabin Iorga, head of production at the firm, which has a sales arm in London and an R&D office at Allia Future Business Centre in Cambridge. “We have found a way to supplement the energy using solar panels.
“The energy comes from the tiles using footsteps but, if you don’t have that resource – if there are not enough people walking around – then you won’t have enough energy to power all the systems.
“So we integrated solar panels into our installation.”
Both the solar power and the kinetic power harvested from footsteps are linked into Pavegen’s self-built charge controller.
“It means we can take energy from any available source,” Iorga told the Cambridge Independent.
Not only are two type of energy innput now available, but two types of output are available, so you can either use the energy you have at your disposal to charge batteries, run fans, fire up LED lights – or you can drop it into the national grid.
“This was the first project where we integrated solar panels into our system,” said Iorga. “It worked well – it’s fine.”
The new system used in Chelsea Flower Show’s ‘Space to Grow’ section meant combining “photo-voltaic solar panels with its kinetic energy paving system to power the classical water feature in the garden”. The result was that “the solar panels will enable the system to generate energy during times of low footfall”.
The dramatic development means that Pavegen’s V3 tile design is now much more adaptable to different conditions and this will make it significantly more attractive to smart city organisations and firms seeking to create sustainable urban infrastructure.
The Pavegen surface consists of a series of interlocking triangles. As people walk across the patented system, the top surface moves vertically by between 5mm and 10mm. This downward force creates a rotation in the electro-magnetic generators below, which produces around five watts of continuous off-grid power for the duration of the footstep. The system also incorporates low power Bluetooth beacons which can reward users for their steps via apps.
Pavegen worked with New West End Company and garden designer Kate Gould to deliver the final concept to the show’s 168,000 visitors.
Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and founder of Pavegen, said: “We believe in smarter cities which put people rather than machines first...Cleantech is going to transform our cities into places which improve the environment and create happier, healthier people.”
Award-winning garden expert Kate Gould said: “Traditional gardening methods can go hand in hand with green technology, helping make our cities happier, healthier places.”
“We worked alongside garden designer Kate Gould as she created a sustainable garden,” Pavegen’s communications analyst Asha Mistry said. “So it was about how the future might look if it was more people-friendly, for instance with less pollution.
“We had one array of our tiles in the centre and another close by. When the tiles are stepped on they generated electricity for the lights above the installation and for the fan.
“It was a great success and very lovely to see Pavegen in an urban setting. Integrating into the RHS Chelsea Flower Show shows how versatile we are.”