Bicycling and Renewable Energy

Here’s a story about how the vast amount of bicycle miles driven in Amsterdam can be converted into a source of renewable energy.

It’s a proposal that’s based Amsterdam’s love for cycling; 68% commute to and from work or school were done via bicycle, cranking out a total of 1.25 million miles. What if that kinetic energy (19.5 million watt-hours) could be stored in batteries and the introduced to the grid at the end of each day?

The proposal is called “S-Park,” because, as shown above, participants pick up and drop off their bikes in an S-shaped docking station.  Proponents claim that the doesn’t require anyone in Amsterdam to change their routine–thousands are already biking and parking their bikes at home after work or school.

First, 19.5 million watt-hours sound like a lot until we realize that means 19,000 KWhrs, which in the U.S., is worth about $2000.  Does that justify all this stuff: the special wheels, the batteries, the infrastructure?

But the main problem lies in physics rather than economics.  If you take all that kinetic energy and store it, you’re not going anywhere.  The chemical energy from the cycler’s muscles is converted into kinetic energy–because that’s what makes the bicycle move forward.

Also, picking up and dropping off bikes at a central location (to which the biker walks) isn’t a change anyone’s routine?

There is a reason that this image above is an artist’s render and not a photograph.