The sidewalk that converts the footsteps of passers-by into electricity is real and already used by 40 countries, with an ulterior motive

A company called Pavegen has developed an assortment of ceramic tiles that can generate electricity from people walking through crowded spaces. No fewer than 40 countries have rushed to install the system, mainly because it offers a benefit not many would have thought of.

Considerably more expensive than the usual assortment of ceramic tiles set in mortar by poorly trained workers, the Pavegen system is mounted over a network of generators designed to convert the shocks induced by pedestrian footsteps into electricity. Inducing at best a sensation comparable to the rubber mats in children’s playgrounds, the system goes largely unnoticed by passers-by, who will at best notice that the usual asphalt and cement has been replaced by a much more elegant paving made of ceramic tiles.

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According to the manufacturing company, the Pavegen system can generate up to 7 watts of electricity for each step, more than enough for, for example, completely self-sustaining street lighting in the location.

But the real benefits are for city administrators, who can monitor in real time the intensity of pedestrian traffic for each of the locations equipped with the Pavegen system, going as far as accurately counting the number of people or bicycles that have transited that location.

Part of a local clean energy initiative, the system has also been installed on dance floors and playgrounds at locations in Germany, with authorities estimating that enough energy has already been generated to power an electric vehicle over a distance of more than 1100 kilometres.

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In the absence of more concrete information on the costs involved, we can assume that these are borne by the authorities of the cities that have shown interest in the project, in the belief that the “benefits” are in any case greater than the initial financial effort.

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