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Check it Out: Calories to Kilowatts

Texas State University in San Marcos claims ‘largest human power plant in the world’

Texas State University in San Marcos lays claim to having the “largest human power plant in the world.” The university has retrofitted 30 elliptical machines in the student recreation center to convert human exercise into electricity that is fed to the campus’ power grid. The technology sold by ReRev, a Florida-based company, captures the kinetic energy of aerobic exercise, converts it to direct current and then into alternating current, the kind used in businesses and homes.

According to the company, a typical 30-minute workout will produce 50 watt-hours of clean, carbon-free electricity—enough energy to power a laptop computer for one hour or a desktop computer for 30 minutes. This is the largest such project for ReRev, which has installed similar exercise machines at other universities and private organizations in other states.

Texas State officials hope the project will encourage students to become more energy efficient. A university news release states, “We want the Texas State community to gain a better understanding of how much energy it takes to power simple devices we use on a regular basis.”