Laurence Kemball-Cook, now the chief executive officer of Pavegen Systems, developed the flooring system, which converts the kinetic energy of footfall into electricity.
It was chosen by a committee of influential figures in the sustainable business committee to win the ‘Big Idea’ category at the prestigious Ethical Business Awards, hosted by The Observer newspaper.
Accepting the £2,000 award from Chris Murray and Lucy Siegle, the National Grid’s Climate Change Champion for Transmission, Kemball-Cook said: ‘We are at a crucial stage as we grow the company from a start-up into a fully fledged deliverer of renewable energy solutions, and being under the spotlight means that even more of our potential partners will appreciate the very real opportunity that our energy-generating paving systems represent for towns and cities all over the world.’
Although only a young company, Pavegen’s low-carbon indoor and outdoor lighting technology has already won an order from Westfield for its new headline Olympic site in Stratford City — to be the largest urban shopping centre in Europe. Pavegen is a key element in helping them to achieve their strict targets for environmental sustainability. And in December 2010, the Simon Langton school in Canterbury installed the energy-harvesting floor tiles in one of its busiest corridors.
Pavegen Systems has also won awards from bodies including the Technology Strategy Board and the Chartered Institute of Builders and was awarded runner-up for Eco-Innovation at the Salon-Environord EU Conference in Lille.
The current Pavegen paving slab contains a low-energy light-emitting diode (LED), which lights up, communicating the energy transfer idea to the user but only consuming around five per cent of the energy from each footstep. The rest of the energy can then be stored in an on-board battery or diverted to any chosen device. Future applications might include charging points for electric cars or personal devices such as smartphones.
Kemball-Cook is keen to exploit his patented technology on roads and is working on a prototype system that will harvest the energy from lorries and cars on motorways and in cities to power street furniture such as lighting and LED information boards.
Loughborough University supported the Pavegen technology in its infancy through a Student Business award and Kemball-Cook was presented with a Graduate Enterprise Award last year.