The California Fitness health club in Hong Kong has connected car batteries to exercise machines so that they can harness human energy to reduce their electricity bills.
Rita Wong a fit 27 year old said its very good motivation; for as she pedals furiously on the elliptical she can see the calories she’s burning powering the fluorescent bulb above her head.
This is only one of a number of projects that is part of the renewable-energy movement that is trying, in small ways, to tap the power of the human body.
There are shoes that convert walking into electricity and can generate around six watts, enough to power a mobile phone and dance floors that turn vibrations into energy.
Using elbow grease to power equipment isn’t new. Hand cranked torches and radios have been around for many years. What’s new about the next generation of projects is that they are trying to capture energy that is a by-product of normal everyday human activities such as walking or exercising.
In the pipeline is a dance floor by the Dutch company Enviu. They are building it in a nightclub in Rotterdam at a cost of around £160,000. This floor will convert the vibrations of the dancers feet into enough energy to power up lights embedded in the floor.
The amount of power generated by the California Fitness gym members, is not going to light up the Honk Kong skyline. The 13 machines that have been rigged up will just about run three TV’s or five 60 watt bulbs. This works out at about £90 worth of electricity.
However the company’s U.S. parent is watching the Hong Kong experiment closely and says it would consider a global rollout if the Hong Kong project is successful. The company has three million members and close to 400 gyms in the U.S.