Light footsteps harvest wasted energy

If you are of a similar age to me, the vision of Michael Jackson lighting up the pavement, whilst singing his disco classic Billie Jean, is an iconic image of the Eighties.

Maybe not as infamous as his ‘moonwalk’, but nevertheless, I remember thinking how fantastic a light-up footpath would be – not because I was a fledgling Queen of Easy Green™, but because it looked magical, clever and cool!

Well, this idea has now been turned from fantasy into fiction and for it’s young inventor, Laurence Kemball-Cook, not only is this invention an exciting opportunity for his renewable energy solutions business Pavegen, it has also landed him a prestigious Ethical Business Award.

Although only a young company, Pavegen’s low-carbon indoor and outdoor lighting technology has already won an order from Westfield for its new headline Olympic site in Stratford City – to be the largest urban shopping centre in Europe. Pavegen is a key element in helping them to achieve their strict targets for environmental sustainability. And in December 2010 Simon Langton school in Canterbury installed the energy-harvesting floor tiles in one of its busiest corridors.

The current Pavegen paving slab contains a low-energy LED which lights up, communicating the energy transfer idea to the user but only consuming around 5 per cent of the energy from each footstep. The rest of the energy can then be stored in an on-board battery or diverted to any chosen device. Future applications might include charging points for electric cars or personal devices such as smart phones.

Kemball-Cook is keen to exploit his patented technology on roads and is working on a prototype system that will harvest the energy from lorries and cars on motorways and in cities to power street furniture such as lighting and LED information boards.

I think this is a fantastic invention, with limitless potential – harnessing ‘wasted’ energy, whilst reducing our dependence on fossil fuels makes the developments of Pavegen’s technology incredibly exciting and one worth watching.

To see Pavegen in action, check out this video:

Now, I wonder if Laurence can invent something to help me master the ‘moonwalk’?!


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Thanks Mark, yes it’s a fabulous invention and from such a young talent. How great would it be if all music venues, concerts and nightclubs etc could be powered by this technology. Gyms too – perhaps with money-back incentives for the biggest contributors (i.e. gym members).


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