New designs, new ways with super micro renewables

oliver General, Natural stuff, Technology/ Energy Saving

We all know that micro generation is changing the street and roof scapes of our cities, and of course if we can make this work financially then we should be investing in it. But what about creating energy at a smaller scale still, for want of a better term I’m going to call it Super Micro generation, which doesn’t mean Wind Turbines wearing their pants outside of their leggings, and being generally more heroic than they already are, but looking at those tiny but frequent moments of energy that we are missing out on every day.

My favourite find of London Design week, tucked away at Designersblock was the Moss table, from Design in Science, a sleek acrylic table with an integral light and a glass top covering an array of individual moss plants. Whilst still in development the idea is to “demonstrate the potential for Biophotovoltaic (BPV) technology to generate energy from the photosynthesis of living plants such as moss or algae”. They may be some years off this becoming a realistic vision for energy generation, it does demonstrate real potential.

Whilst I’ve written about the benefits of welcoming plants into the home, this could open up a whole new world in health, well being and energy generation.


And just think what happens if we start to scale this up, from a table to, well… a giant lilly pad! Time to start saving up for that electric yacht you’ve always dreamed of.

And talking of the little things in life being more useful, the new Play 4 Power energy generating unit by Hungarian design group Pirates of the Danube could start to become a reality and allow my kids to start converting that endless stream of energy into something a little more useful such as lighting the house or powering the TV, as they play. The result: I get free energy and they get tired, for me that’s a win win combination!

And thinking of the pitter-patter of tiny footsteps, why not turn those footsteps into energy at a street near you with a Pavegen paving tile- which harvests Kinetic energy (a tiny movement in the tile from a foot step) into usable energy for all sorts of applications – street lights, information systems, or signage, and if you’re feeling groovy of course there is always the self energy generating dance floor which has been making its way round the summer festivals this year. We’ve been talking to PAvegen recently about installing some units in a new Environmental Centre we’ve been designing in Brighton. Perhaps if the technology gets more efficient it could be powering stair lights in our own homes in years to come?


But for now it seems like one of the most accessible forms of super micro generating green energy is still hand held photovoltaic chargers, like the Solio, which uses mini pv panels to charge electricity into a rechargbale battery, allowing you to charge up mp3 players, phones, digital cameras etc, as long as the sun shines, which today I am pleased to say it is. Seems like Indian Summers are good for more than just the soul and the mind but also our energy bills!