renewable energy

Power of the People: Harnessing pedestrian energy in Caceres

For every step you take -- walking along the sidewalk, taking the stairs, or going for a run to get some exercise -- your body is using and transferring energy. Most of the time, this energy ends with us. You take a step forward, and the energy of that motion is absorbed by the pavement, the soil, or whatever surface you may be walking on.When you consider how many steps we each take in our daily lives of commuting, working, recreating, and running errands, there is a huge amount of energy from our motions that is spent every day and goes unharnessed. Multiply the kinetic energy produced by a single person by a city's total population, and you have a considerable energy source that has not yet been tapped. The idea of harnessing kinetic energy produced from people's movements is one that has caught the attention of city officials in Caceres, Spain. One of the 21 member cities participating in the 2012 Living Labs Global Awards, Caceres envisions a future in which the ambient energy produced by the movement of people can be harnessed and used to help power our cities. Sound like science fiction? In fact, a number of companies are on the cutting edge of energy harvesting technologies and are leading the way in making the idea of kinetic energy capture a reality.

In this year's awards, Caceres has selected five showcases as nominees to present their ideas for capturing energy from sports facilities. All five present a similar type of technology as the backbone of their proposed projects -- smart floors. These surfaces are able to absorb and convert the energy from foot traffic into electrical energy that can be used to power any number of city services and systems. Smart floors can also be used to convert other types of wasted energy to electricity, such as the vibrations produced by vehicular traffic on roads.

Although the electrical energy produced from pedestrian power and transport vibrations could not power a city all on its own, it provides one more type of clean, sustainable energy that cities can add into their energy portfolios. And it's reliable -- as long as people keep moving, kinetic energy will continue to be a potential energy source. Caceres is currently focusing its challenge on the power potential of sports facilities in particular, but there are seemingly endless possibilities for how smart floor technologies could be applied in our cities. From playgrounds to roads to sidewalks to staircases, the places where people move and live could soon provide their own energy source.

~ Allison Bullock


Venture your sports Kinetic energy solution in the city of Cáceres

To meet its sustainability agenda, the city of Cáceres (Spain) is seeking products and solutions to capture the movement generated at municipal sports facilities to generate renewable energy. The city invites companies worldwide to submit their solutions before 17th February to the  Living Labs Global Award 2012. Cáceres wishes to convert the energy created by citizens in sports facilities

Cáceres aims at having the kinetic energy set free by exercise converted into electricity through a device embedded in sports facilities or gym equipment such as the running surface. The city seeks to collect sufficient energy in accumulators that can be used to supplement existing lighting or other systems, or feed back into the grid. Further, devices may be able to measure the energy savings that will be produced and feed such data to a central management system that may also provide custom energy reports to athletes and citizens (more information here).

Submissions to the Award are free of charge and the winner of the Cáceres category will be invited to pilot the solution in the city, with full support from local stakeholders to evaluate the solution before a full-scale roll-out.

Last year’s winners of the Living Labs Global Award include, for example, Bitcarrier, a company that managed to  a pilot implementation of its CitySolver Technology to monitor traffic within 3 months of winning the Living Labs Global Award, and a public procurement within just 6 months.

How to submit:

Entries can be submitted online on until 17th February.

International juries will evaluate the entries and provide a shortlist of the top 100 showcases on 5th March. Winners will be announced on 2nd May 2012 at the Award Ceremony during the networking Rio Summit on Service Innovation in Cities, for which all participants are invited.

About the Living Labs Global Award 2012:

Living Labs Global, a non-profit association promoting innovative solutions in cities around the world, is organising the 2012 edition of the Living Labs Global Award in cooperation with the cities of Barcelona, Birmingham, Caceres, Cape Town, Coventry, Derry~Londonderry, Eindhoven, Fukuoka, Glasgow, Guadalajara, Hamburg, Lagos, Lavasa, Kristiansand, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Rome-Lazio, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Santiago de Chile and Terrassa.

Together with these 21 cities, the Living Labs Global Award 2012 aims to provide a market opportunity to innovative solutions with the aim of helping over 110 million citizens in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe.

For more information, please contact:

Miguel Carvalho 

Tel.: +34 93 1855110 Twitter: @LivingLabsAward Facebook:

Lighting Up the Night

Living Labs Global is now soliciting applications for its Labs Global Award 2011.  This year, we are working directly with eight international cities (Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat del Valles, Stockholm, and Taipei) that have specific urban challenges to solve.  These eight challenges form eight award categories: automation of urban services; venture finance for millions of African entrepreneurs; intelligent urban lighting solutions; sustainable initiative on intellectual property protection; creating the next generation of government; smart urban services based on sensor networks; intelligent transport solutions; and smart solutions for 10,000 smart houses in 16 green communities.  Full details on these categories are available here. In light of our focused effort in collecting innovative solutions (deadline for submissions in February 28, 2011), we will be concentrating our blogging effort in the next few weeks along the themes of the Labs Global Award 2011.

The first solution I’d like to highlight is Urban Green Energy’s Sanya, an innovative street lighting system recently deployed in San Francisco.  UGE is a “world leader in small wind energy” and has created a vertical wind turbine with a low enough profile to be deployed in urban environments – it is meant primarily for parking lots and highway medians.  San Francisco’s then-mayor, Gavin Newsom, recently announced their installation in his “civic center sustainability” district, an area of the city surrounding the City Hall.

The Sanya solution is great for local and renewable energy advocates, though some have posited the solution could present challenges to utilities companies who often power, control and maintain communities’ street lights.  But, because Sanya is designed to last about 20 years with minimal maintenance costs and run entirely on wind- and solar- power (capable of storing up to 5 days’ worth of power), they are an attractive solution to cities.  And, as Lora Kolodny argues on Techcrunch, Sanya could actually be a positive thing for utilities as well: they could be connected to the traditional utilities’ grid to help them fulfill regulatory requirements for local and renewable energy sourcing.

The comments on her article reflect the sentiments of some environmentalists who, despite the obvious benefits of Sanya to the environment, dislike the idea of helping utilities companies and of street lighting itself (“light pollution”).  Nonetheless, I think this is an interesting and positive solution whose progress I will continue to follow from afar; too bad I’m not living in San Francisco anymore.

-Terra Curtis