Although Pavegen has been criticised for generating a negligible amount of energy, the company is working towards an increasing return. Their most recent tile harvests about 200 times as much energy as the first prototype, launched in 2009. Pavegen’s founder Laurence Kimball-Cook likes to compare the company’s journey to that of Tesla. ‘Their first car was really expensive and the range wasn’t great, and our first tiles were super-expensive without much power output,’ he told Forbes. And while the first tiles cost around £20.000 pounds per square metre, the aim is to bring down this price tag to approximately £500/m2 within the next few years and ultimately, down to £100/m2.
Much of Pavegen’s work is still on a temporary basis with a focus on experience, but the ambition is to be a vital part of the future data-driven smart city. The company is currently researching the possibilities of harvesting energy from bike lanes and even architecture. Its recent agreement with Siemens to cooperate in a number of international smart city projects will certainly help them get there.
Pavegen is one of the initiatives that have the potential to change the way we view and use our streets. Previously on Pop-Up City, we covered Google Sidewalk Labs’ prototype for modular streets and Umbrellium, a company that is testing the prototype of the Starling Crossing, an interactive pedestrian crossing. Although most of these innovations are still in its infancy, it could only be a matter of years before they will alter the streetscapes of our cities and help us adapt to our current-day – and future – needs.