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The World’s First Player-Powered Football Pitch

The World’s First Player-Powered Football Pitch

Have you ever watched a game of football and thought about all of the potential energy that was being wasted? Maybe not, but a start-up company from London has!

Pavegen has created tiles that convert the kinetic energy of a footstep into electrical power, with some already in use in Heathrow Airport, trains stations across Europe, and even in some schools in England and New York.

Working with oil company Shell, Pavegen has used its technology to refurbish a football pitch in a slum in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, used by the local children and youth football team.

The field has been covered with 200 energy-harnessing tiles with a layer of astroturf over the top, as well as solar panels surrounding the pitch. The solar panels create up to 80% of the energy used by the pitch during the day, while all of the energy needed to power floodlights in the evening and such comes from the tiles beneath the players’ feet.

At the moment, each tile costs around £310 ($500), but as the company refines the manufacturing process, the price is dropping, which means that more and more projects could benefit from the installation of these tiles in the future.

Pavegen CEO and founder Laurence Kemball-Cook didn’t want to give away any of the secrets of the tiles’ technology, but did explain that they work like a cog system. Once a tile is stepped on, the “cogs” spin and act like generators, to store and convert energy.

“We have effectively turned this community into a real-life science experiment. I believe this technology can be one of the future ways we illuminate our cities,” he declared. “We have taken this idea from a bedroom in London to a football pitch in Brazil.”

Brazilian football legend Pelé led the countdown to the pitch’s floodlights being turned on for the first time at dusk and donated a signed football to the community. But he thought he was at the launch for a regular artificial – a welcome gift on its own.

“I didn’t expect that this field could produce energy!” he exclaimed. “It is the first in the world.”

The 73-year-old explained that the sport of football had been through so much technological innovation since the last time he played. “This new pitch show the extraordinary things possible when science and sport come together.”

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