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Pavegen harvests energy from Paris Marathon runners


April 18, 2013

Every step counts at the Paris Marathon

Every step counts at the Paris Marathon

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While the term "electrifying" can sometimes be used to describe breathtaking performance in sports, it's not often you'll find it used for marathon runners. Yet, that's precisely the word I'd use to describe this year's Paris Marathon, which took place on Sunday April 7. You see, as the feet of almost 40,000 runners hit a 25-meter (82-foot) installation of special tiles at the beginning of the 26-mile (42-km) course, kinetic energy was harvested and turned into usable electricity.

The brainchild of Pavegen Systems' CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook, each energy-harvesting tile flexes by 5 mm when stepped on, resulting in up to 8 watts of kinetic energy over the brief period of the footstep. Install a number of the tiles in pedestrian-rich areas and the energy produced can be stored in batteries, or used to help power street lighting, information kiosks, communications technology and the like.

The 176 Pavegen tiles laid out across the Champs-Elysées departure point of the 37th Paris Marathon represent the British cleantech company's largest installation to date. Tiles were also placed around spectator viewing platforms and other key points along the route, and built-in wireless technology was able to transmit energy production information for display on huge screens.

In an interesting twist, 2013 Paris Marathon sponsor Schneider Electric promised to increase its already substantial donation of €50,000 (US$65,000) to French NGO Habitat et Humanisme by €10,000 (US$13,000), if the runners and the crowds of spectators managed to generate more than 7,000 watt-hours between them. Though the final tally actually came up a little short at 4.7 kWh, Schneider decided to throw in the extra bonus anyway, and the charitable organization will be receiving the full amount.

As for the marathon itself, 22 year-old Kenyan Peter Some won the men's race with a time of 2:05:38, while Tadese Boru from Ethiopia set a new women's record of 2:21:06.

Source: Pavegen

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

So awesome!!! I love how all around the world, different styles of renewable energy sources are popping up. We need more!!! I think that we might not destroy this Earth after all.

Artem Down

Now here's an amazingly brilliant idea! Now if this technology can be plastered all over highways and roadways, then maybe your daily commute will at least contribute back instead of just consuming energy! I'm sure PSE&G & ConEd would 'love' this idea.... (yeah right...!)


I love this concept.

Jim Jost

LOVE IT! Gather those stats on how much traffic is needed to generate x storage and then install in heavily traveled paths--malls, schools, walking paths. It should undoubtedly become part of our future energy infrastructure! All the little things that can be done to harvest new sources of energy can add up! BTW--a note to author--I too learned on TRS-80s :)) !!

Cindy Shanks

There's nothing 'renewable' about this system as a means to generate electricity. The energy harvested does not come out of thin air. In fact it comes from the people stepping on the mat and they will have to work that bit harder when they do rather than stepping on an ordinary road or pavement. It's a bit like running or walking on sand compared to concrete.

Martin Winlow
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