Sport can save the planet

| April 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

In 2016, British technology company Pavegen, in partnership with Shell LiveWIRE, created a soccer pitch in Lagos (home to 17 million people) that converts energy from players’ footsteps into electricity, which in turn powers the lights that illuminate the field.

The unique soccer pitch was created at a teachers’ training centre, the Federal College of Education (FCE). There is no reason why the generated power could not be used for other purposes during the day, says Pavegen. Nigeria is but one country plagued by ongoing fuel shortages and a growing demand for electricity. And Pavegen has realised another important fact: the enormous popularity of soccer across much of Africa.

To create the FCE soccer pitch, 100 kinetic energyharvesting tiles were placed beneath the pitch’s surface to capture the energy from players’ footfall and convert it into electricity to power floodlights or be stored for later use. Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen’s founder and CEO, says “One step will light up a light for 15 to 20 seconds.”

If that energy was supplemented with solar panel energy, “a community could have enough energy to live on for 24 hours”, he says. Pavegen has also experimented with other high foot-traffic locations across the globe, such as Heathrow Airport in the UK (some areas are powered by LED lights) and a train station in France. As it works, the company finds new ways to economise, says Kemball-Cook.

“We’ve reduced the price by over 500%, to about 20% more than normal flooring that you might find in a typical shopping mall in Africa.” On 22 December 2016, France’s Minister of Environment, Ségolène Royal, officially opened the world’s first solar road in Tourouvre-au-Perche. It stretches for one kilometre and comprises 2 880 solar panels. The road is designed to produce sufficient power to electrify street lighting in the 3 400-person village. 

Category: Autumn 2017

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