Kicking New Energy Goals With Some Entertainment
Clean energy is a difficult issue. Ideally, we would all like to be using renewable energy for the future of the planet but there are many barriers standing in the way of wide-spread adoption. Price. Accessibility. Ease of access. What if we took a different approach? Something that focussed on entertainment rather than social conscience?
There is one driving marketing force behind the adoption of renewable energy. Social responsibility. It would be great to live in a society where everybody made the socially responsible choice thinking about the impacts on other people around them and the future generations, but unfortunately too many other things get in the way for this utopian society to exist.
Many efforts have been made to influence individuals’ levels of social responsibility in their decision making, but on the whole these have proved rather fruitless. So maybe it is time for a change of direction?
Stop targeting social responsibility and start targeting entertainment.
I’m not going to suggest that all the people who enjoy bike riding start trying to power their home with pedal power. This idea comes from the favelas in Rio de Janiero.
Of all the societies, favelas in Rio should be least concerned with adapting to clean energy. With low incomes, a society built on subsistence and major issues with crime, there are plenty of barriers standing in the way of having the luxury to invest time and energy into renewable energy. Many more barriers than first world societies!
However, that has not stopped this society becoming the testing ground for a new energy advancement.
It would be difficult to find many kids in Rio who would not be kicking a soccer ball on the streets in their spare time. As a result, this initiative has stemmed from the strong cultural ties the community holds with soccer.
A small soccer pitch has been built in the centre of this favela with special tiles under the grass which harness kinetic energy to generate electricity. Every time the tile is compressed, enough energy is created to power a light bulb for a few seconds. One step is not going to make an enormous difference to this area which often receives blackouts and power shortages, but thousands of steps from each player across the day will go a long way to creating a sustainable solution.
This large energy creator hasn’t asked people to change their behaviour. It has merely seen an opportunity to harness everyday actions and passions into a great social responsibility initiative. There are, of course, hundreds of other opportunities for this great new technology such as subway stations and busy entrances, but in the meantime looking at turning everyday entertaining behaviours into socially responsible solutions is a pretty clever way to enact great change while allowing everyday people to make a true difference to their world.