Boomberg reports: “Paris Marathon to Harvest Runners’ Energy With Pavegen Tiles”:
Paris Marathon organizers will lay energy-harvesting tiles across the course on Sunday to ensure not all the effort expended by the race’s 40,000 runners goes to waste.
The goal is to get their cost down to $76 per tile.
Seriously, has anyone thought for 1 second about whether this thing is economically viable? As hare-brained ideas go, this is up there with flywheels on buses, and laptops powered by static cycles. Because hey, laptops are so easy to use when you’re pedalling a cycle, mobile or otherwise. Not!
Of course, whenever these truly insane schemes are pumped up, the promoters always talk about how they’re low-carbon, environmentally clean, gets people fit, and harnesses power that would have otherwise gone to waste.
OK, the get fit bit is usually true. The rest of it is usually arrant nonsense. The first glaring problem is that, economically, they make no sense. The second problem is that there’s no such thing as free energy … Laws Of Thermodynamics … you know, reality as it actually exists and stuff like that. In order to power these machines, people power them with mechanical energy. But that energy isn’t free. It has to come from somewhere. Where? From calories in food that the people eat. It gets worse, though. Inconveniently, converting energy from one source to another inevitably involves entropy. In other words, the conversion process is inefficient to a greater or lesser extent, and energy is wasted. Given it’s an inviolable law of physics which no engineer can overcome no matter how clever, that inevitably leads engineers to devise machines in such a way that the waste is kept to a minimum as technology and cost considerations allow. Since eating, digesting, and processing food consumes a lot of energy, and mechanical energy generated by humans creates heat (perhaps it hasn’t escaped your attention that you get hot when you exercise), it ought to be apparent that powering stuff by using human energy is never going to make sense. It might be fun and a novelty worthy of some entertainment value.