Innovative renewable energy – from hot springs to ski slopes

What if we told you that you could generate power from your footsteps or body heat? Or that you could ski down a giant waste incineration plant?

Across the world people are creating unique ways to harness and generate renewable energy and power cities using natural resources.

We’ve pulled together a few of our favourite innovative projects from across the globe.

Bath Abbey springs into renewable energy

In March 2021, Bath Abbey officially switched on their innovative eco-heating system, harnessing the power of the thermal spring water that flows from the famous Roman Baths.

Installed by renewable energy specialists Isoenergy, the ground source heat pump makes the most of the 1.1 million litres of water that flow beneath the Abbey every day at a balmy 40°C.

Ten custom-built heat exchangers collect heat from the thermal spring water and produce enough energy to heat the historic Abbey, and their neighbours. All in all the system generates enough heat for the Abbey, their offices, Song School and volunteer facilities – that’s almost 1.5MWs of energy straight from their own renewable source.

Sustainable waste-to-power, on a ski-slope?

A a famously flat city, when you think of Copenhagen you probably don’t think 'skiing'. Well, not anymore!

The Danish capital is home to the Copenhill, a metallic mountain in the form of the world's cleanest waste incinerator. The waste-to-energy power plant is one of the largest in Northern Europe, and doubles as an outdoor urban recreation ground, complete with ski-slope, hiking trails and a climbing wall.

Designed to burn a whopping 35 tons of waste per hour, it generates heat and electricity for 150,000 households using waste collected from residents and is saving over 107,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to the old plant. It even puffs a 30m wide ‘smoke’ rings to make it look like a volcano (don’t worry – it’s just steam).


Solar powered smart palm trees

Tree-planting may get talked about a lot when it comes to sustainable living, but these trees are different…

‘Smart palm’ trees have been sprouting up in public places across Dubai. Aside from providing some much needed shade, these man-made trees are self-sustaining, solar-powered charging stations and information points, complete with Wi-Fi and security features.

Created as part of Dubai’s smart city initiative, tourists and residents alike can enjoy fast, reliable internet while charging their electronics up to 2.5 times faster than a normal charger.

Functional by day, they’re also beautiful by night. The built-in solar panels power green LEDs fitted on top of the palm’s ‘leaves’ creating a sustainable green glow that lights up this increasingly sustainable city.

Footsteps are the future

Off to the shops? Going for a run? Pavegen have created smart tiles to make every step count. Harnessing kinetic energy from movement, Pavegen technology converts the quick impact from footsteps into continuous power.

Effective in high footfall environments, they’ve been installed at places like Heathrow and Abu Dhabi airports, and even Oxford Street in London.

‘Smart streets’ are an interactive infrastructure solution, creating an engaging and interactive experience. Instead of walking through a dull terminal building, users can generate the very energy being used to power the lights and sounds of new high tech, sensory experiences in public spaces all over the world. All just by walking!

This type of innovation can help power the cities of the future. Find out more about smart cities and the urban energy transition.

The power of dance

Glasgow nightclub SWG3 is tapping into a seriously powerful energy source – club-goers throwing shapes on the dance floor.

The radical new project called BODYHEAT captures the – you guessed it – body heat of dancing crowds and transports it to boreholes drilled 150-200 metres deep into the floor. There it can be stored for days, weeks or months to be used as energy to power the rest of the building. The technology is set to reduce the energy use of the venue and save up to 70 tonnes of carbon per year.

Launching on November 7th coincide with the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the system is just another way to prove that saving the planet doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can even have some fun while you do it!

Helping Britain achieve Net Zero

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