With Pelé's influence, footstep-powered soccer pitches could become a reality in more and more communities.
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The Brazilian football star helped kids demonstrate Pavegen’s floor tiles that generate electricity through footsteps. He hosted a virtual penalty shootout, the Pelé Energy Challenge, between kids in Lagos and London. The shootout featured two teams linked via satellite. The more energy players were able generate on Pavegen tiles, the more time they had to compete.
Pavegen’s founder, Laurence Kemball-Cook explained how his player-powered tiles work in more detail to Forbes.com. They are able to monitor every footfall, and their management software is able to help predict the best times and locations on the field that allow for the most energy generation. The technology has machine-learning capabilities in order to better understand patterns of movement.
We covered Pavegen here in January when they debuted their second state-of-the-art soccer field in Nigeria. Pavegen’s tiles are able to generate electricity to power lights on the soccer field simply by having people play the game. The tiles are located under the turf. When people walk, run or jump on the tiles, they are able to generate energy.
Pelé helped Pavegen and Shell introduce the world’s first player-powered soccer pitch in 2014 in Morro da Mineira, which is located in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The tiles themselves are still very expensive, costing about $500 a piece. The fields need at least 200 tiles. The two companies understand this, therefore the fields also use solar panels to help power the floodlights overhead.
The former World Cup winner is very excited about the possibilities that Pavegen’s technology can provide.“I’ve seen how this amazing technology has reinvigorated the community,” he told Sunday World, “allowing Brazilian children to follow their passion in sport and learn about future energy solutions in the process.”
Pelé’s presence in London helped draw more attention to Shell’s Make the Future London festival. The main attraction of the event is the Eco-marathon Europe, which is an energy-efficient driving challenge. Three thousand students from 34 countries raced their own cars in the 31st running of the event.
Pavegen is hoping to bring their technology to many more soccer fields around the world. They also plan on utilizing their tiles in everyday life. Similar kinetic energy tiles are currently in use around Europe, including one in Heathrow terminal.
A ton of repetitive steps and downward force is required to convert the kinetic energy into sustainable electrical energy. The average step creates only seven watts of power, which is just enough to power a small LED light bulb for 30 seconds. Pavegen has been working to improve their technology for seven years, and they know they still have a long way to go.
But Pavegen, with the help of Shell and soccer superstars like Pelé, has the potential to bring this exciting technology all around the world. They are off to a great start thus far. Player-powered sustainable soccer fields bring a lot of people joy.
The world’s most popular sport has a few allies that are sure to help power the game for years to come.