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New Bill Could Allow California to Harness Power Otherwise Lost as Cars Travel Over Pavement

Workers installing road piezoelectric devices

We’ve been presenting over time how piezoelectric devices could harness energy from different sources, and I think we were right supporting this technology. The following is a Press Release sent to us by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who proposed a new bill that will implement piezoelectric technology already in use in Italy and Israel to harness energy from road vibrations.

“Hybrid vehicles capture the energy lost while slowing down a vehicle and use that energy to power the car independently from the engine for significant stretches of time. But what if we could capture the energy lost as all automobiles move along a stretch of pavement and place that power into the electrical grid? A bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) would do just that.

The technology, called “piezoelectric generation,” can produce as much as 44 megawatts of electricity per year from one single-lane, one-kilometer stretch of roadway — enough to power 30,800 homes for a year. The science works as follows: When a car or truck passes over pavement, the pavement vibrates ever so slightly. (You can feel these vibrations if you have ever stood on a road as a truck speeds by)

By placing relatively inexpensive piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations produced by vehicles can be converted into electricity, which can be used to power roadside lights, call boxes, and neighboring communities. Identical technology has already been placed underneath highways in Israel, and Italy has signed a contract to place the technology under a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. The technology can be placed under asphalt during regularly scheduled repaving, and does not affect the vehicles traveling on the road, in terms of “road feel”, fuel efficiency, or emissions.

“A major source of renewable energy is right beneath our feet — or, more accurately, our tires. California is the car capitol of the world. It only makes sense to convert to electricity the energy lost as cars travel over our roads,” said Assemblyman Gatto.

Gatto’s bill would require Caltrans to use existing funds (already set aside by AB 118, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007) to run two pilot projects with the new piezoelectric technology, one in Northern California and one in Southern California. “Caltrans could sell the power to local businesses and use the proceeds for other piezoelectric retrofitting, or simply for much-needed repairs to regular roads,” said Gatto. “These projects would quite literally pay for themselves, and will be a significant source of ‘green sector,’ private-sector jobs. ”

Gatto’s bill, the Roadway / Highway Electrification Act pilot project, is AB 306.

Mike Gatto, 36, represents Glendale, Burbank, and the Los Angeles communities of Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Toluca Lake, and North Hollywood in the California State Assembly. He was elected in a Special Election in June 2010.”

The only thing I’d like to add now is that I wish all the best to Mr. Gatto and may his Bill succeed. I mean… Israel did it, why shouldn’t California ?

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  1. Another scheme….. 2 KWh (30 cents of 1 US dollar) generated by a 10 meter strip….with all the labour involved…plus the breakdowns to follow, because nothing resists repeated passages of trucks…Pleeeease..


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