Category: Renewable energy

Kinetic pavement generates extra energy at Olympics

A temporary footbridge by London’s Olympic Park is being fitted with 12 energy-harvesting tiles designed to generate additional electricity during the Games.

Made from recycled lorry tyres and recycled aluminium, the tiles flex 5mm when stepped on, which creates the electricity. The company behind the tiles – Pavegen Systems – is elusive about the precise technology it employs, but according to an interview last year with The Engineer, the Pavegen team has invented a hybrid solution which takes advantage of the ability of certain materials to transform mechanical strain into an electric charge.

Forecast to generate a total of 21 kilowatt hours of electricity over the course of the Olympic Games, the tiles are unlikely to make a significant dent in the event’s overall energy use. However, as the company’s video highlights below, the installation could signal the mainstream uptake of a new renewable energy source.


Brazilian prisoners produce energy to reduce sentences

Convicted criminals are not generally known for ‘giving something back to the community’, but an innovative new programme at a Brazilian prison is set to change that, for the benefit of prisoners and the environment.

On the suggestion of a local judge, Brazil’s Santa Rita do Sapucaí prison has installed electricity-generating stationary bikes, allowing them to keep active while producing energy to power city streetlights, thereby enriching the community for everyone.

Their incentive? For every 16 hours spent pedalling, prisoners can shave a day off their sentences.

The initiative isn’t mandatory, but has proven so popular that the prison is adding eight new bikes. The total 10 bikes will produce enough energy to illuminate an entire avenue in the city centre.

eBay earns positive feedback with green data centre

Internet giant eBay is usually the first point of call for folk looking to reuse and recycle their unwanted stuff, and now the firm itself is pushing the green revolution further with plans for a renewable energy-powered data centre.

The Utah-based facility will only use traditional electricity as a back-up to its main power grid, and will instead run its operations with power from 30 fuel cell units. Using biogas, a fossil fuel alternative made from organic waste, the company is aiming to generate 1.75 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year with the new installation, making it the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the US.

The data centre should be up and running by mid-2013.

The company is not the first to reconsider the environmental impact of its data centres; Apple announced at the beginning of the year its plans for a 100 acre solar array at its Californian site, following concerns from Greenpeace regarding unclean data centre energy use.