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Leighton Buzzard station walkway

Leighton Buzzard train station first to utilise energy from footsteps

Image credit: Pavegen

The first project to utilise energy from footsteps at a transport hub has been launched at Leighton Buzzard train station in Bedfordshire, which will be used as an initial platform before rolling the technology out to other transport hubs.

The project was launched this week by Pavegen and Central Bedfordshire Council. Pavegen is a UK tech company which offers the V3 energy tile: a durable floor tile which transforms the kinetic energy of footsteps into small amounts of electrical energy. The company also offers an accompanying app which provides rewards linked to “authentic sustainable action” when people step on V3 tiles.

The station, which has 1.75 million commuters travelling to and from it every year, now has two walkways made of the kinetic floor tiles. The tiles power a data display screen, which shows the amount of electricity generated with each step, and two USB charging benches. The start-up hopes the installation will engage commuters and the company will work with the local authority to demonstrate how digital engagement through the Pavegen App can help the high street through its rewards programme.

“I like the fact that it engages people, involves exercise and it is creating clean electricity all the time,” said Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire. “I think that connection between people and the energy being created through movement is a really good join up.”

Ian Dalgarno of Central Bedfordshire Council said: “This trial looks at how we could use kinetic energy to power nearby highway assets and having seen the installation I am really impressed with how the Pavegen technology works. I am certain it is something I think our residents will really engage with.”

Although Pavegen has deployed the tiles elsewhere in the UK, such as at the Chelsea Flower Show and at the University of Birmingham, this is its first deployment at a UK transport hub. The project was a joint venture between Pavegen, the local authority, ADEPT and West Midlands Railway. It was funded by the Department for Transport, which provided £1.05m for its eight Live Labs programmes for transforming public places through tech pilots, of which this is one.

It is hoped that the programme will demonstrate the viability of the technology and that other transport hubs will follow suit.

Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO of Pavegen, commented: “Pavegen is very proud to be part of this pilot project. We are excited at the prospect of helping to drive a national rollout to create a greener, more sustainable transport network for the UK. We have evolved our product to create a new and engaging mobile app platform to create a way for transport hubs to reward their passengers for the footsteps they use. These rewards could be used to encourage footfall and get people back to retail, leisure, or hospitality sections of the UK’s larger train stations. This is without losing sight of the purpose: using footsteps to create clean energy for off-grid, bespoke solutions.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “Putting your foot to the floor in a car has always been a way of generating power, but now, with this fantastic piece of British technology, you can do it simply by walking along a stretch of pavement - and in a green and clean way, too.”

Pavegen claims that the V3 tiles can provide 3 joules of energy per footstep or up to 5W of power when active; this only refers to the duration of each footstep. The power output of the tiles deployed under real-world conditions is not known. Soundpower, which is providing a similar technology for the Tokyo Olympic games, said that a 60kg person walking at a moderate pace can generate 2mW, which is enough to power a small LED display.

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