Free clean energy is just a bike ride away

Amsterdam has some impressive ambitions when it comes to generating renewable energy. Indeed, by 2025, the city has pledged that 1/4 of its electricity will be sustainably generated. But, in the centre, packed with monuments and protected buildings, solar panels aren’t permitted. Other infrastructure necessary for the transition, like electricity substations and transformers, are way too big or just too ugly to fit. So, how to transform a city that can’t be transformed? 

Every day, Amsterdammers cycle two million kilometres altogether. When people pedal to work, to the gym or to the other side of the city, an average of 19.5 million watt-hours is generated. It’s a crazy amount of energy — enough to power thousands of households. 

What if we could bring this energy back home? This is exactly the idea behind the S-PARK. S-PARK turns the energy produced by people on their bike, into electricity for their own neighbourhood. Every neighbour is given a special front wheel. Once installed, it stores the energy generated while cycling and braking in batteries. 

And at the end of the day, when everyone comes back home and parks their bike, the energy is then redistributed into the neighbourhood’s electrical grid. For a rack of 30 bikes, with an average cycled distance of 3.6 km per person every day, we expect to get around 1kWh. It’s enough to power all the surrounding streetlights, to play video games or power a fridge during a full day. Also, per year, it’s 615 kg of CO2 that is not released in the air.

On a human level, the S-PARK’s strongest advantage is that they’re not asking locals to do something new. They’re hijacking an existing behaviour and harvesting energy that’s already everywhere in the city, allowing them to make the transition to clean electricity by embracing the city’s heritage. 

The S-PARK creates a visible and tangible link between neighbours, giving their daily commute a whole new dimension; and their bikes are a statement they are part of the same wave of entangled electrons, fighting for cleaner energy on their streets and pushing Amsterdam forward.

Designers: Guillaume Roukhomovsky & Blaž Verhnjak - The Netherlands
UN SDGs: Affordable and clean energy & Responsible production and consumption

S-Park from The Index Project on Vimeo. Music: Lee Rosevere