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US state explores energy generation via peak traffic

The CEC has invested $2 million in a study, which is investigating if piezoelectric technology can be used for energy generation from many of the congested freeways, Climate Action reported.

Energy generation through innovation

Climate Action explains: “Piezoelectric technology converts vibrations into electric pulses, and is already utilised on a small-scale in objects such as electric guitars, sonar and microphones.

“The plan is to utilise this concept on a larger scale on Los Angeles’ famously gridlocked freeways.”

They added: “The study will show how small piezoelectric crystals, which generate energy when compressed, could produce electricity for the grid if installed under asphalt.

“As the vehicles roll over highways embedded with these crystals, an electric current is created from the mechanical stress, which can then be harvested to energise the grid.

“Scientists have estimated that the energy generated from a 10-mile stretch of four-lane roadway could power the entire city of Burbank, which has a population of 105,000 people.”

Long-term vision

CEC’s deputy division chief of energy research and development, Mike Gravely, said: “It’s not hard to see the opportunity in California…It’s an energy that’s created but is just currently lost in vibration.”

Paul Bunje, a scientist and former founding director of UCLA’s Center for Climate Change Solutions, added: “No longer is driving just the act of using energy. Maybe it’s also part of the process of generating it.”

According to Climate Action, Los Angeles’ long-term vision is to generate 50% of the state’s electricity with renewable energy by 2030, adding that it is currently on target to reach 25% by the end of the year, according to the Energy Commission.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.