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Home » Wild Energy

Human Power! Renewable with Many Positive Social Benefits – 10th Entry into the Wild Energy Challenge – Please Cast Your Vote

Submitted by on February 1, 2011 – 4:31 pm 7 Comments

This is an entry into the Adult section of Wild Energy.  If you like this entry please give it a rating out of five stars (see the bottom of this page).

A new source of energy!! Entry submitted by Anthony Field.

My entry in the Wild Energy competition, is a new paradigm, harnessing an untapped source of energy.  This energy is entirely renewable, and has many positive social benefits.

New Zealand has a total of 8,500 prison inmates.  I propose that each prisoner should exercise on an exercycle connected to a generator. We could then use this energy, and they would be contributing positively to society.

How much Energy ??

“For tasks lasting a few minutes, a fit human can generate perhaps 1,000 watts. For an activity that must be sustained for an hour, output drops to around 300; for an activity kept up all day, 150 watts is about the maximum.” (Source)

So to calculate the energy this could provide New Zealand we start by assuming each prisoner has one hour on the exercycle each day, working at a rate of 100w for that hour.
8500prisoners * 100w =850 KWhr / day

Now since everyone needs exercise every day, we can multiply this by 365.25 to get a total of 310 MWhr / year
Thats a lot of previously unused energy !!!

How much is this energy worth?

Assuming electricity costs stay at 20cents per KWhr, this is $62,000 dollars of electricity each year !!!

Replace the Mokohinui Dam?

Sadly this isn’t enough energy to replace the Mokohinui Dam.  However it is a step in the right direction, and it would educate many people about energy production.

Social benefits:

However there are added social benefits too:

  • Fitter and healthier inmates.
  • Prisoners receive exercise, but they would no longer have axcess to weight training, thus they are not be able to build intimidating physieks to scare little old ladies when they are released.
  • Prisoners will have a higher self esteem, knowing they helped power their country.
  • Perhaps when they leave prison, they will become cyclists, enjoying the cheap and carbon free form of transport they have trained for.

Costs:

Given that this could generate $62,000 each year the cost to implement my plan would be very very

low, and pay for itself very quickly.
The initial cost of the generators would be small since each generator bike would be used by many
prisoners each day.
Perhaps we could have another competition to design / make cheap generator bikes to get the cost
right down.

I envisage all prisons would have many generator bikes in one exercise room, and this would need
no new staff, since one existing staff member could easily supervise over this room.

No waste:

Because Prisons are spread over our country, but are mainly near to population centres, there will be very little or no line losses due to the transmission of this energy. It can be used at source.

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Human Power! Renewable with Many Positive Social Benefits – 10th Entry into the Wild Energy Challenge – Please Cast Your Vote, 5.0 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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7 Comments »

  • Julia says:

    Now just to get all those people who do spin classes to hook up to generate power…that would be a lot of energy and good exercise!

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  • Ainslie says:

    What a great idea!!

    Releasing endorphins makes people feel good and feel happier – there could be some positive rehabilitative qualities to such a program as well as healthier inmates (costing the taxpayer less in medical expenses). People feel better when they can contribute – give them the chance to, and they can feel better about themselves.

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  • Anthony Field says:

    Great point Julia,
    My idea could be implemented in gyms all over the country 🙂
    Many thousands of people exercise in gyms each day, and again single machines could be used by many people everyday.
    The benefits of distributed generation would apply here also.

    Thanks for your interest.

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  • Ruth says:

    Fantastic idea. Also, I like the idea of gyms around NZ contributing to the national power grid. Sometimes seems a waste to use all that energy in a gym, fitness class etc. with no power generated.

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  • Ian Burgers says:

    What a maaarvelous idea! Not only would this give the inmates a good dose of healthy exercise (which we all know is better than watching TV), but to generate power for the country at the same time would be wonderful. Each prison could maybe compete against each other in the effort of generating the most power.

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  • Kate H says:

    This is a great idea. Does anyone know where one of these bikes is available to buy in NZ with a generator as well? I’m from a large University in rural Australia and we have been granted funding to buy and use a human powered bike to promote a greener image for the University. We have so far not been able to find anything that meets our needs. Our budget is approx $AU2000 but we can go a bit higher if the product meets our needs.

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  • Anthony Field says:

    Hi Kate, Thanks for your positive feedback 🙂
    I can enquire with friends of mine who work in a company that specialises in “grid tie” equipment, how many bikes were you thinking of using ??
    This gives me an indication of the power level, and thus cost.

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