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Crazy Green Energy Idea: Part 1

Posted on March 7, 2007

Compact FluorescentThe other day I was talking about energy and “green” stuff with some of my FeedBurner colleagues when an idea bubbled up. What if we could harness all of the energy put out by people exercising? Just think about how many gyms there are in the country and how much energy is being put out by people cycling, running, using the elliptical, etc. They could yield a lot of power. Of course we’d have to store it and then have the energy company buy it back from us for it to be worthwhile.

I see the business model, assuming this is even a viable idea and the energy produced would even add up to a decent amount (any scientists out there?), coming together in one of two ways.

Model 1: Hooking up to Existing Gyms

This model, as the title states, would involve hooking up to existing gyms and then selling the power back to the energy companies. You could set the gyms up for power storage at no cost to the gym owner and provide them with a cut of the power sales. The gym owners may even be sold on attaining a “green” label for their gym which would allow all of the profits to stay within the company although something tells me they would want a cut of the profits.

I also thought of selling and installing the equipment and then allowing the gym owner to keep all of the power profits but I don’t see this as likely. The gym owners don’t want more hassle and their competency is not storing and selling power. However, this idea could work also.

Model 2: Start the Gyms

Again, as the title states, you could start the gyms and build in the power storing architecture from day one. Of course this wouldn’t take advantage of the “install base” of existing gyms but you could expand into that arena. If the power sales were great enough you could allow free or next to free gym access so more people would use your gym. As a side benefit, this would also lower the barrier to entry of working out allowing more people to get fit. Now you’d be helping to solve both the global warming problem and the obesity problem. How’s that for a social venture?

Of course I have no idea if this is even feasible at this point but it seemed interesting. I will keep researching the science side of this and I’d love feedback from all of you guys out there on whether or not you think this is feasible and whether or not you think we’d get squeezed by the power companies. This could just be crazy enough to work (or maybe I’ll need to start laying off the Cadbury Creme Eggs).

Photo Credit: Michael Hicks on Flickr

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4 Comments so far
  1. Derek Anderson March 7, 2007 5:05 pm

    This is an excellent idea. It could be promoted from both the energy side and the health side.

    There is a smaller home market here as well. Exercise equipment providing the only supply of power for the television/video game.

  2. […] Original post by Eric Olson […]

  3. Eric Olson March 7, 2007 5:28 pm

    Great point Derek. Being a cyclist (and a little weird) I’ve often thought of hooking my bike up to my TV in some way in order to power it. Then I’d have to cycle at least a little bit to watch the TV. The same thing could be applied to video games especially with new “active” video game consoles like the Wii coming out.

  4. exercise equipment review July 12, 2007 2:37 pm

    This site explains an experiment in hong kong using this sort of idea. In my opinon the person most likley to help finance this would be the California Govenator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Think about it, he already offers tax breaks to residents and businesses whiling to put up new solar systems and offer means to sell it back to the electric company. Not to mention he is a fitness nut.