Last year we told you about a proposal for a self-sustaining, energy-harvesting floating bicycle and pedestrian path along the Thames River in London to take the pressure off traffic in the city and allow people to commute by bicycle more easily.
Well, that project is now in progress and seeking funding to develop the so-called Thames Deckway, an eight-mile conduit that leverages solar, wind, and tidal energy to support its own infrastructure.
The project will launch a Kickstarter campaign in October for its first feasibility phase, seeking £250,000 ($385,700) in a six-week campaign that will run from mid-October until the end of November.
To be built in stages, the Thames Deckway will eventually run for eight miles close to the river’s south bank from Battersea to Canary Wharf. It will generate all its energy from state-of-the-art wind, tide and solar technologies that will be integrated into the Deckway’s pontoon system.
Anna Hill, founding director of the River Cycleway Consortium — which is leading the project — explained to Design News how developers plan to integrate the various energy-harvesting technologies into the deckway, although specifics are still being ironed out and are proprietary.
”These systems will be 'bolt-on’ equipment systems integrated into the basic Deckway design,” she said. “Photovoltaics will be based on thin-film, flexible cell technology; wind generators will be airflow-enhanced, and tidal turbines will be ducted. These systems may vary in design along the Deckway’s [span]."
The deckway needs electricity to operate its traffic control, safety monitoring, deck lighting, and other systems on a 24/7 basis and for its floating amenities such as cafés and stalls, Hill said. The goal for the project is for these to be fully powered by the system of renewable energy-harvesting technology. There might even be a surplus of energy that can be stored or used for other services, she said.
”It will be the first transportation infrastructure project in London that can generate 100 percent-plus of its energy needs,” Hill said.
Building this type of infrastructure on the Thames is a natural fit because a combination of renewable energy can be leveraged from there, she said. “In the case of the Thames, with its tidal current, open exposure to the sun and wind, making it energy self-sufficient is an obvious choice,” Hill said. “Not to use the Thames as a resource to generate energy would be a huge missed opportunity. It is integral to our human-centered and environmental design ethos.
She added that private consortiums are needed to develop and promote these types of green design projects in London because city officials aren’t really encouraging them. “London’s government is asleep at the wheel on this issue,” she said. “Private ventures, such as the Thames Deckway, are best placed to take the initiative and lead the way.”
Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.