British clean-tech company, Pavegen, installed the first street that will generate electricity with help of the weight of pedestrians’ footsteps in Bird Street, London. Shoppers and commuters will generate electricity by walking on tiles encompassing 10 square meters (107 square foot), and will also be able to check how much they’ve generated from a mobile application.

Pavegen’s installation is a multifunctional, custom flooring system that is embedded with a wireless transmitter, capturing the data from the tiles, along with generators that generate kinetic energy as people walk. This happens because the pressure causes generators in the flooring to vertically displace. Therefore, electromagnetic induction creates kinetic energy, which can then be used to provide electric power. As its name suggests, in Bird Street, the tiles will be powering ambient bird chirps as well as lighting.


Lawrence Kemball-Cook on a bike in Bird Street. / Twitter

“When a person walks, they generate 5 watts of energy continuously, so you are, we all are, a 5-watt power-feed. Now imagine 10 people; that’s 50 watts of energy continuously,” says Pavegen CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook. “Let’s say you have 40,000 people an hour passing through Grand Central Station, that energy is stored in batteries, and at night time, the power comes on. So municipalities, train stations, offices, schools — anywhere with lots of people walking — that’s perfect for us,” he adds.

This is not the first Pavegen installment in London; in 2014, Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 got its very own energy-generating tiles. It’s also the world’s first airport interactive light exhibit, which they are calling “Flow,” coupled with the hashtag #walkandlight for passengers to add in their captions when posting videos or pictures.

Across the pond in Washington DC, just steps away from the White House, Pavegen designed a 73 square meter (240 square foot) installation on Connecticut Avenue, which sees around 10,000 people passing through daily. In Rio de Janeiro, the company has used the weight of children’s footsteps as they run, jump and play in a football field to light it, making it safer for children to play at night.