Images via Yanko Design
"Your consumption is production" is the premise behind a new concept called Current Cart by Kitae Pak & Inyong Jung that would turn shopping carts into electricity-generating mobile units. Their hope is that shoppers can power the stores in which they shop by the very act of wandering around the store and shopping. It's an intriguing idea, but there are a lot of "yeah right" factors to consider.
The carts would generate electricity as they're being pushed around the store, then the collected energy would be put into a larger battery at the cart rack. The idea is that the collected energy could power the store.
However, there are two glaring issues. First, could carts possibly generate enough kinetic energy to power much of anything? And second, when would they provide a return on investment and generate more electricity than embodied in them during their manufacturing?
The cost of manufacturing the carts alone would push back the pay-back period for the investment quite a bit - if it could ever provide a return on investment of the embodied energy of all that plastic and metal. Perhaps if existing carts were retrofitted with the necessary equipment, there might be a possibility. But there's still the charge-collection racks to consider, and so forth. And we know that harvesting kinetic energy isn't terribly effective - something we talked about just yesterday as the BBC tried to illustrate just what it'd take to power your home by bicycle. In fact, we're usually wary about kinetic energy harvesting as they usually aren't all they're cracked up to be - such as Sainsbury's kinetic road plates that would supposedly power the cash registers.
The energy gathered miiiiiight be enough to supplement something within the store, like certain displays or the cash register lights. But it certainly wouldn't ever generate enough to power a store as the designers hope. What would be far more effective at reducing CO2 and saving energy would be to *not* use shopping carts - as in consume less as shoppers, and have stores set themselves up to be energy efficient before they go about bringing in power-producing carts for people to push around.
More Kinetic Energy Concepts
Powering Your Entire Home By Bike?! The BBC Explores 'Cheap' Energy (Video)
Kyocera Dreams Up Flexible Cell Phone Charged By Kinetic Energy
Chinese Exercise Balls That Kinetically Charge Your Batteries
Charge Your Cell Phone By Spinning It Around Your Finger