It’s the kind of story that can send an American greenie into a swoon of Euro-phillia: in the French city of Toulouse, a series of modules have been installed in a public sidewalk that collects the energy of passersby to power a nearby streetlight. The project is a partnership between the City of Toulouse, which aims to position itself as France’s green tech capital, and a Dutch company called–wait for it–Sustainable Dance Club, which has been developing kinetic modules that use the movement of crowds to generate electricity.
However, like most American fantasies of green Europe, this story is not the perfect as it appears to be. In fact, the Toulouse sidewalk is just a pilot project, and it appears there are some serious bugs that have had to get worked out. The modules themselves, for instance. According to The Guardian, one of the main issues was the fact that the original modules only worked if you jumped up and down on them “like a kangaroo”–perhaps not at issue at Club Watt in Rotterdam where they debuted (assuming maybe there was some thrash-metal involved) but definitely an issue as far as a kinetic sidewalk goes. Also, officials note that while the dream of sidewalks that power streetlights is one shared by many cities, the cost of such modules at present is still high.
Still, there’s plenty to admire here–in a city known as a European aerospace and technological hub, for stepping up to the plate in turning the dream of the world’s first power-generating sidewalk into a reality, and in a young Dutch company developing the tech to make it happen. (Currently, Sustainable Dance Club is also working on modules for use in crowded areas like train stations and stadiums.)