With all the talk about solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy, one less talked about subject is human power. Now, it’s no secret that humans have been lending a leg for centuries to power all sorts of devices from ships to mills to bicycles.
In the past, I’ve talked about MIT students using pedal power to supply electricity to their computers. I’ve also talked about velomobiles and electric-assisted bicycles. But, there are vast other areas where human power has been greatly wasted.
Every couple of days, when I work out at the gym I see people along side me on stationary bikes, treadmills or using other equipment that is not connected to any kind of power generator and our efforts (in regard to recapturing energy) are wasted.
This is why I was most thrilled to see today’s article about the floating, human-powered gym. Not only can people work out but they can take a peaceful tour up the river (similar to a paddleboat) by using their human power.
A couple of weeks ago there was another story that caught my eye about a London nightclub that was using the human movements upon the dance floor to supply electricity for the lights. The more people moved to the music, the more electricity was generated and not wasted.
This brings to my mind all sorts of places where humans move their bodies and the energy is not captured, but could be. For instance, humans move up and down steps in incredible numbers. These steps are in office buildings, in front of national monuments or just a part of urban and rural landscapes. Most of this “step” energy is never captured.
Humans also like to jog outside on nice days and many take the same trails day, after day. Like the dance floor that captures human impact and coverts this energy into electricity, jogging trails could use similar technology to generate electro juice as well.
Another place that human power could work is in the water. Rowboats, canoes and paddleboats are typically designed to move people from point A to B efficiently, but while not capturing the energy from human exercise.
Now, these are just some of the ways that we need to start thinking about capturing human power into renewable energy. Waste is not an integral part to a sustainable future and even if human power will account for a small part of the overall picture, it will certainly bring public awareness in the journey we all share together.