Pavegen: Harnessing Energy from your Footstep

With about two million hustling in Agbogloshie in the heart of Accra each day, there is no doubt that the
people of Ghana lose energy from their relentless effort to make a living. Aside the inconvenience in
walking long hours and gaining little or nothing from it, Accra Central is a very crowded place which
makes Electricity supply and revenue collection a Herculean task.

It was a special pleasure to see Pavegen, the world’s first tile power generator, invent a tile which
generates electricity when stepped on. With this, the problem of ‘wasted walking’ and power problems
are in hopes of being remedied.

(Figure 1 Pavegen tile)

It’s not only about the Jollof wars, Nigeria, Ghana’s sister country has already gone ‘Pavegen’; installing
Pavegen in one of stadiums. Power generated from the tile powers the stadium and the community in
which the stadium is located.

(Figure 2 Pavegen used to power a stadium in Yaba, Lagos-Nigeria)

How it Works
The Pavegen tile generates electricity when someone steps on the tile. The tile depresses up to a depth
of one centimeter and this causes its generators to turn. The turning generators produces kinetic energy
which is then converted to electrical energy for consumption. [Kinetic energy is energy from moving
objects]. It also uses the piezoelectric effect to generate energy. Piezoelectric effect is the ability of
certain materials to generate electric charge in responded to mechanical stress; this case push from your
feet.
In total, this produces up to 8 Watts of energy per step. Although this may not be seen as much,
Pavegen is meant to be placed in high traffic areas such as pedestrian pavement paths, the mall, dance
floors and stadiums.

Figure 3 Pavegen used on a pedestrian walk way in London

They are rated to last about five years before any refurbishing could possibly be done, withstanding
harsh weather conditions such as rains and floods.

(Figure 4 Dance floor at Bestival on the Isle-of-Wright)

Benefits to the Contemporary Ghanaian.
Aside its power producing capability, if Ghanaians are convinced that they walking would waive off part
of their electricity bills or add up to the power needed to serve the nation, then why not? We would get
more people walking to produce power and this would help reduce exercise related diseases people
may battle with.

 

Short-comings and The Way Forward
Given all these sound good, why then has Ghana not adopted this technology? Pavegen’s real issue now
is pricing. Its pricing has made it impossible for individuals to afford, hence its main customers being
governments of countries. There is hope because it is usual for new green technologies to be expensive
at first. An example being solar, it has taken solar about 60 years to get to where it is right now; even
with that most people find solar very expensive. With time, Pavegen would get better in terms of
affordability.

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