I have always enjoyed visiting Toulouse, France. The picture above gives a pretty good feel of the ambience. A city of various shades of rose bricks. The space in the picture is the huge square of La Capitole. Central Toulouse is basically a pedestrian town, there is a subway, small busses, rental and free bikes, but the narrow, pedestrian streets and huge open spaces give the city a human scale which is intimate and grand at the same time.
This weekend, Toulouse initiated an innovative new project which uses the natural energy of the thousands of pedestrians on the street to provide free power for street lights.
In a two-week energy-saving trial, a group of paving slabs installed in the city center can generate 30 watts of electricity, enough to power overhead street lights.
"It is an experiment for now, but this system, unique in the world, allows us to anticipate a whole series of applications for the city," the deputy mayor in charge of sustainable development, Alexandre Marciel, told Reuters.
The paving slabs contain micro-sensors which capture the energy created by people walking on them, and store it in a battery.
This could enable the city to collect electricity during the day for use at night when there are fewer people on the streets.
The system is also being tested in Amsterdam and Shanghai, China.
The pavement was invented by Dutch firm Jaap Van der Braak.