Endless amounts have been written about what is the right path to a low-carbon future – but not much of that commentary has focused on the role that literal paths could play. Yet in the future we may all be generating energy wherever we go, whether we're walking, driving or sitting on the train, using a technique known as energy-harvesting.
There are two main approaches. One is to use mechanical technology to capture the energy and convert it into electricity and the other is to use piezo-electric materials, which produce electricity when they are put under pressure – when someone steps on them or drives over them, for example.
One of the best-known uses of the technique was in a club in Rotterdam, which installed an energy-generating dance floor, where the dancers created their own light show. While in the UK, a company, Pavegen, has generated energy from schoolchildren running to their next lesson, from thousands of runners at this year's Paris Marathon, revellers at the Bestival music festival on the Isle of Wight and spectators travelling to watch the London 2012 Olympic Games via West Ham tube station.
The technology is ideal for anywhere that attracts crowds, so ticket barriers at train and tube stations are an obvious application, but the concept will also work at shopping centres, sports venues, even airport terminals. READ MORE >>