back to article French city in pedestrian-powered streetlight plan

French city authorities, according to reports, are considering plans to power streetlights using energy provided by pedestrians treading on special power-generating pavements. The Guardian reports that Toulouse, "France's technological and aeronautical hub", is carrying out trials of the so-called "pavement power" technology. A …

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OR another way...

Why would street lights even be needed at night when noone is walking around? It might make more sense for them to remain off until someone is actually on the street within a certain radius, and no doubt these energy generating streets would be able to detect if someone was present or not.

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Already happens...

..on the Isle of Man. Asides the main cities (really, more towns by mainland standards) like Douglas and Ramsey, every street lamp goes off at night. At least, they did last time I went there.

Tell ye what, the skies at night there are a whole lot more beautiful than the putrid orange I'm used to.

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So, look...

...I'm sure the skies at night are big and bright deep in the Isle Of Man, but how do all the burglars and muggers feel about this?

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It is only big towns and cities.

Out in rural France, all those little villages are plunged into darkness when the mayor dictates, which is usually either 10pm or 11pm. Then the night sky is worth looking at. :-)

As for pavement power... Merde alors!

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CT

should not put off authorities in cities where the political will was strong.

So political will can overcome scientific impossibility. Gets my vote.

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FAIL

Reminds me of that other nonsensical French "invention"...

...the MDI compressed air car: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_Development_International

Bunch of charlatans! State-sponsored no doubt, too (or should I say EU sponsored).

The frogs should stick to what they do best - nuclear power!

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wha they do best

Isnt that Whine ^H^H^H^H Wine ???

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Nope

We in Australia do wine best, the French can suck it.

As for the other spelling (whine)... who can really say if the Frech do that best, when there are so many contenders for that crown.

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Go

A bit strong

I'd say calling the idea 'cretinous' is a little strong. Admittedly, the idea appears to be more flawed than practical, but it's not the first time someone has come up with a totally ludicrous idea in the history of inventions (machines that actually SUCK the muck off your floor? Machines that FLY? Electrici-stuff?? GADZOOKS!). As with most hair-brained ideas they need time to evolve. The maths, currently, prove that powering a city with magic pavements is way off, but even using the puny power of a human to reduce the amount of grid power used is a step in the right direction (albeit a small one - and pun not intended).

We've seen all manner of technological advances which improve our usage of electricity - from smaller, lighter, higher-capacity batteries to more efficient solar and wind-powered generators. Whose to say that in the future magic pavement technology won't increase to the point where it becomes viable?

Perhaps you'd better walk home - lest you asphyxiate if you travel above 18mph....

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Anonymous Coward

Hear hear

Well said.

Can't throw out the idea completely as there are some flaws. A bit of brain storming might come about with a few more helpful ideas as seen on here, like using the power to supplement the mains, reducing its requirement. Or to light only where there is movement.

Or we could eat more pies to feed it more kinetic energy from our heavy footstomps.

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thought abou this the other day

But rather have them in tunnels to help power the fans that extract the pollution.

Im sure a 16 wheeler going over 30 plates would do something usefull.

the only way this will work is if they can prove cost effectivness

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Stop

there's a problem

With the truck idea, you're basically taking energy from the truck to power the fans. The truck then has to burn more diesel to make up for it. On the other hand, many westerners could do with using more energy on a day-to-day basis, so the pavement is idea fine (all other things being equal - like ROI on the kit!)

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FAIL

First Law of Thermodynamics

Energy is never created nor destroyed. Your 16-wheeler just has to use extra fuel to get through the tunnel now, as some of its energy is going into the fans.

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Sadly

Michael Jackson is no longer around to explain how he managed to light a whole lamppost just by leaning against it.

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Per "The Matrix"

Simply wire the Toulousians up in series-parallel. There, sorted.

BTW, are Toulousians alkaline or acid?

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nobody cheats thermodynamics

Walking on the electropavement will be more tiring than walking on solid ground, so people would simply avoid it.

Lionel: it doesn't work on cars, but if it did, it would be even more stupid. The energy would come out of gasoline, only in a wildly inefficient fashion. Might as well just build a coal plant.

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Coat

Bed-Powered Generators?

I'll bed they'll get a lot more energy by wiring generators to working girls' beds. It would also give energy at the time it was most needed.

...just sayin'...

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Flame

Sustainable brothel!

I love it. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

Put dynamos on the exercise bikes down the locally de-fatting club!

And wave generating equipment in the pool for when they jump in for a dip!

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Roxanne

You have to power on the bed lights.

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Er, Hang on

Don't the french rely on around 80% nuclear power?

Which probably means that since you can't really "stop" a nuclear power station for the night, instead having to wind it down a bit; there's probably spare power knocking around at night (after around 11pm/midnight anyway), meaning street-lights probably spend most of their time running off spare electric anyway.

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Go

The Swiss bank it for them

You will find that when the Dutch aren't using spare French nuclear power to run other people's data centres, the Irish aren't dragging it across southern England etc the Swiss buy it on the cheap, use it to pump water up a mountain and then wait for the demand peak in the middle of the day to sell it back at an inflated price.

Did you think a country full of bankers wouldn't have worked out how to stuff their pockets at the expense of everyone else in this market too?

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So do we

See Dinowic.

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CT

and another thing

you don't get the energy for free, so why not just give people a hand-held wind-up torch, so they can generate the power they need for when they're there.

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Amen

Head mounted LED lamps are great and last for ages. You could switch off the lamps and give everyone in the country one with the first months savings.

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Coffee/keyboard

Je peux voir baise-toute

You owe me a keyboard, lol :)

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frankly cretinous

lovely description, not just for this idea but for the french in general!

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nice concept

be great for anywhere crowds gather - say, town or city centres on friday or saturday nights.

I suppose these could also be rigged up to some batteries so all those daytime shoppers can power the lights for at least some of the night if not all, depending on how many lights are connected up.

Obviously you wouldn't / couldn't connect every single streetlight up in those areas which see virtually no pedestrian "traffic" - I don't think that's the point of the trial :P

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Happy

It might help...

... if they put a PA stack on every corner playing club classics such as Iggy's "Lust For Life", The Clash's "London Calling", and so on and so forth. If nothing else, it would make the place pretty lively.

Paaaaaaaaarty!

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Wow! Y'know...

...you might have something there. Also, the playing of Jean-Jacque Perrey's dance-mix version of "Lovers' Concerto" might be apropos as well.

Yeeeaaaahhhh, everybody, let's pogo!

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FAIL

Energy yield ?

How much energy will be harvested from hapless pedestrians, compared to the considerable energy investment in the sidewalk ?

This reminds me of the generator bike in our local gym, which has a full fat PC collecting the data, and a 32" LCD TV proudly displaying the watthours "generated" by the user. Oops.

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Solar

Er, stick a solar panel + battery on each lamp. Sorted.

Easier to install, without digging up the pavement; easier to maintain; doesn't leave dark spots in the more secluded areas, where more not less street lighting is needed; will actually work.

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More feasible, maybe...

...but still infeasible.

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FAIL

@Dale 3

"Er, stick a solar panel + battery on each lamp. Sorted."

This is actually available in the UK. It even incorporates a small windmill to pick up power.

Common street lighting column c£150-800 (ornamental mock victorian type)

Free standing non connected "green" street light c£3000.

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Solar?

Just use slow glass.

RIP Bob Shaw

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Slow glass

Yes, that was indeed a classic story (for the uninitiated, the story is "Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw). It's one of my favourites. But when I read it, a few minor problems with slow glass occurred to me.

One is refractive index. Since RI of a substance is the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light through the substance, the RI of a sheet of slow glass 10 years "thick" and say 1cm physical thickness, would have to be around the 9.47 billion billion mark, which would lead to some pretty way-out optical distortion if you looked at it from any angle other than head-on.... trippy!

Even assuming they got around the RI problem, there's the issue of privacy. See - you buy this stuff from a hillside in Scotland with a lovely view of the glens, and hang it up in your lounge. It lasts for 10 years, after which you are briefly treated to the visuals of the journey from Scotland to your place, and finally a lovely view of your lounge-room wall as it was a decade ago. So you take it back up to Scotland and swap it over for a new piece. Very good, no? Well, considering the sales guy was using it to watch the past of his dead wife and child, there's just one small problem; the OTHER side of the sheet of slow glass is now radiating out the last 10 years' worth of all the goings on in your lounge-room, dumped nicely out on a publicly-viewable hillside in Scotland for the next decade for all comers to see...

And they thought Google Street View was bad! ;)

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There's a lot of these

solar-powered lamps here in Australia, where we get a lot of sunshine so the idea actually works quite well. Most of our city and suburban parks in Adelaide are now lit with solar lighting, and some SA country towns are using it on their streetlamps as well.

But it probably wouldn't work as well in places like France (except maybe the Mediterranean part) since it's a lot further from the equator and accordingly gets less sunlight - not to mention the often shitty weather in Europe.

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FAIL

Immortal hoax

Two ways to do this: Squishy liquid pouches powering turbines that feel like walking on soft sand or sidewalk plates that sink so you're always climbing stairs. Either way it won't happen.

If cities want to suck some free energy from somewhere, put this technology on steep downhill roads where it would otherwise go towards heating brakes..

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Anonymous Coward

sustainable technologies

This guy clearly isn't an engineer!

First class muppet.

Looking at other innovations he's been involved in, he's clearly interested in trying to ensure Toulouse is recognised for being the first city to employ all sorts of novel 'sustainable' technologies, but interestingly, I haven't seen anywhere where he actually demonstrates the actual savings of such technology.

It's not about being practical, about saving the planet, it's about wanting to be the first to use the technology.

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Heart

I now have this vision

of a cunning criminal trying to sneak past ze inspectore in ze dark, where each tippy-toe step is illuminated by a strobe of light from the nearest lamp. The comic possibilities are endless I tell you.

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Oh, yeah. I can see it now...

"Kato... ATTACK ME!"

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A pain...

Keeping a pavement like that working will be a nightmare, what happens the first time a utility company wants to dig it up, you can see the red tape nightmare already can't you. Or alternatively Pierre with his JCB going straight through it and then saying "Le Oooops".

Surely the answer is a combination of "tricks" on the lights themselves.

1) Energy efficient lamp

2) Solar panel

3) Wind generator

4) Deep cycle energy storage

5) Motion detector so lamp is only on when someone needs it.

All those could be built into the street lamps themselves, so direct slot in replacements, not requiring a pavement to be dug up.

If they really want to mess about with the pavements, how about they make them into a solar panel, with inset LEDs and motion detection of some sort (pressure, strain etc) and we can all be Michael Jackson.

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Possibilities re: your no. 5

"5) Motion detector so lamp is only on when someone needs it."

I see a Gene Kelly dance number coming on...

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As the ENArch (apocryphally) remarked:

"That's all very fine in practice, but it could never work in theory."

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Anonymous Coward

Needs to be turd-proof

French pavements. Dog shit. Pity the fool who needs to do maintenance.

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FAIL

I smell lawsuit

Some doddery old geezer loses his balance as the 'generator' moves, trips, breaks his hip and dies in hospital from age-related complications.

Newspapers get hold of the story and lots of similar cases surface. Lawyers wet themselves with excitement.

Not just Epic Fail, but Epic Fail with knobs on!

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I can see it now

After a little wear and tear and a good rain....

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Some positives?

Urban joggers (and I suppose anyone who regularly pounds pavement at a more sedate pace) tend to knacker their leg-bones a lot quicker than those lucky enough to spend their time bouncing around on good old naked Terra Rather-Less-Firma.

Give the e-pavement just the right amount of bounce to not be too energy-sapping for the livestock, and there'll be a commensurate reduction in the NHS cash spunked on titanium hips and knees every year. Come to that, a wee bit of impact absorption might mean fewer of the lushes who faceplant the pavement every weekend will require A&E's time, too...

Does this make *any* sense? Seems to. Over to the panel...

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Alert

Not enough storage?

they need to chat with the Aussie's and connect with this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4252692.stm

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Boffin

cretinous moonshine

"The amount of power that people can produce using their bodies will never be significant compared to the demands of modern civilisation, and cannot possibly be worth the costs of collecting it."

reminded me of Ernest Rutherford's famous assessment:

“Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of the atom is talking moonshine”.

Perhaps France Telecom should install kinetic-energy recuperators around its taller offices to transform all their jumpers into electricity:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/15/ft_staff/

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