At the Paris Marathon on Sunday, participants’ hard work did more than help them reach the finish line—it also powered technology along the course. Flexible, energy-harvesting tiles made from recycled truck tires and placed for 82 feet along the Champs Elysees translated the effort of 40,000 runners into fuel for display screens and electronic signs.
The manufacturer of the tiles, London-based Pavegen Systems Ltd., has big plans for the product. The company aims to create renewable energy not just for the Paris Marathon, but for cities around the world.
"Imagine if your run or walk to work could help power the lights for your return journey home in the evening," Pavegen Chief Executive Officer Laurence Kemball-Cook said in a statement. He called the tiles "a viable new type of off-grid energy technology which can make a low-carbon contribution wherever there is high footfall, regardless of the weather.”
During the marathon, each foot strike created up to eight watts of kinetic energy, according to an article in Bloomberg. The organizers would not disclose how much total energy was generated, as there was a competition for the public to guess. Schneider Electric, the race sponsor, pledged to donate an extra $12,850 to charity if generation topped seven kilowatt hours—the equivalent of running a light bulb for five days, according to Pavegen.
While Pavegen will not say how much the tiles currently cost, a spokesman for the company said they hope to get the cost down to about $76 per tile.