Nigerian football pitch relies on players’ movements to generate electricity
|August 10th, 2016|
|tags:||Africa, Akon Lighting Project, Football Pitch, Kinetic energy, Nigeria, solar energy, The International Energy Agency (IEA)|
Solar has been a flagship source of energy that has heralded world class technologies that have put the continent in the global map. And now in Nigeria it is being combined with human movement in what could change the face of power consumption as the world knows it.
In a nondescript teachers college in Nigeria’s business city Lagos, a one-of-a-kind football pitch that taps into the players’ footsteps to light the previously dimly lit area has been the marvel of many.
The Federal College of Education has become home to the first football pitch that uses the players’ movements and combines them with solar panels to power the floodlights of the stadium.
Over 100 electronic tiles are placed below the football pitch. Every time a player steps on each tile seven watts are produced which are then sent to a battery where they are stored as power. The stored power lights up to six LED floodlights that the football pitch relies on. Solar panels which have been positioned to surround the pitch have been used to complement the tile technology. The tiles can store the generated energy for up to three days.
Dubbed Pavegen tiles after the name of the UK start up that is the brains behind the technology, the tiles have been trialed in 150 other places across the world where there is constant movement of people including malls, shops and even dance floors.
The brains behind the technology Laurence Kemball-Cook said that the innovation represented a symbol of possibilities and that Africa needed to look beyond the traditional sources of energy including fossil fuel to a mix that would ensure that every home was able to enjoy uninterrupted power.
The technology has been a hit, having caught the attention of international rap sensation Akon who has invested heavily in clean energy initiatives across Africa with the aim of lighting the continent with solar energy through his Akon Lighting Project. Twelve years into operation, the project is in existence in 15 countries and targets to reach 34 by 2020.
“Innovations of these kinds have shown what Africa can produce," said David Kibe an engineer who works on renewable energy in East and Central Africa.
"Solar energy particularly has inspired the majority of these innovations and it is interesting to see the reception they are getting in the market. The greatest motivator here is the fact that Africa receives more solar than any other section of the world, 12 hours a day on average. That is so much free energy to let go to waste even as the people of Africa continue being choked by uneconomical and unreliable power sources.”
Traditional sources of energy have kept millions in Sub Saharan Africa in the dark with data from The International Energy Agency (IEA) projecting that some 620 million people in the region, representing two thirds of the population, have no access to electricity with a paltry 14.2 per cent in rural areas being connected to the grid.
But the region is among those that have recorded a population explosion making it hard to upscale the numbers. Experts now argue that alternative energy sources that benefit a critical mass could be inspiring the new wave of renewable energy innovations. “If you for example look at the Payegen tiles technology in Nigeria, it is not only becoming popular there and the rest of Africa because people love soccer, of course that becomes a hit, because yes Africans love soccer, but it is the never ending uses that the locals can tap into without worrying about cost. It is about convenience without cost,” said David.
The concern now is to make the innovations homegrown throw embracing local technologies that will make these innovations enjoy wide uptake while allowing the innovators make income from their businesses.
“There is a whole array of innovations that can be used to tap into clean energy especially solar. We have tried and tested all this innovations," said Muriithi Wanderi an entrepreneur working with solar energy innovations in rural Kenya. "The people love these innovations, the only remaining bottlenecks is making sure they are affordable for our people.”
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