This summer at the largest urban mall in Europe, visitors may
notice something different at their feet. Twenty bright green rubber
tiles will adorn one of the outdoor walkways at the Westfield Stratford
City Mall, which abuts the new Olympic stadium in east London.
squares aren’t just ornamental. They are designed to collect the
kinetic energy created by the estimated 40 million pedestrians who will
use that walkway in a year, generating several hundred kilowatt-hours of
electricity from their footsteps. That’s enough to power half the
mall’s outdoor lighting.
The slabs are produced by Pavegen Systems,
a London startup launched in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, a
fresh-faced, 26-year-old Londoner who developed his clean energy idea
while earning a degree in industrial design and technology at
Loughborough University. The 17.7-by-23.6-inch (45-by-60-centimeter)
tiles are designed to be used wherever pedestrians congregate en masse:
transportation hubs such as train, subway, and bus stations; airports;
schools; malls; bustling shopping avenues. The power generated from
millions of footfalls can be used to operate a range of low-power
applications, including lighting, signs, digital ads, and Wi-Fi zones.