When playing soccer became a renewable source of energy

Many governments and private organizations around the world are searching for new ways of producing energy. Often, the focus is on renewable energy -energy that comes from natural resources (or natural capital) that are constantly and sustainably replenished. Yet, we often forget about that “we” (humans) do also produce energy. Certainly not in large-scale but perhaps enough to improve the lives of thousands of people in the world. Wouldn’t be great to be “sustainable” while at the same time helping the developing world?

A year ago I heard about the “sOccket”. A soccer ball that generates enough energy to power batteries and small lamps. It was invented by four Harvard students: Jessica Mathews, Jessica Lin, Julia Silverman and Hemali Thakkar. The concept is very simple, and yet quite powerful. Play with the ball for 30 minutes and get 3 hours of energy.

The possibilities are immense, and not only for economic reasons but also for the social development aspect. For instance, as seen in the map below, soccer is a very popular sport, especially in developing and emerging countries. In his last trip to Africa (July 2013) President Obama said that “his administration is distributing the balls across Africa as part of an initiative aimed at doubling access to electrical power on the continent”.


The lesson we can learn from these four Harvard students is that designing a sustainable product does not necessarily mean investing ridiculous amount of money but rather ingenuity, an entrepreneurship soul and passion.

The short video below shows what the “sOccket” is all about.

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Posted in economic development, energy, sustainable development, sustainable technologies

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