Human-Powered Electricity Generation as a Renewable Resource

  • Michael Carbajales-DaleEmail author
  • Benjamin Douglass
Original Paper


Energy and human's ability to transform energy into useful work has been the cornerstone of the development of civilizations. Throughout the majority of human existence, we relied solely on metabolic energy derived from plants and animals. In only a few centuries, society has almost completely transformed, from relying on somatic energy to become almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. The combustion of hydrocarbon energy resources has had detrimental impacts on our environment, which has initiated a push for clean energy. This research study explores the metabolic energy output of humans, specifically within an exercise facility, to evaluate the feasibility of electrical power to be sustained from human-powered energy. Two rowing workouts were evaluated and then compared to solar photovoltaic as an alternative renewable energy. The result of the study demonstrates that 40 members of various physical abilities can collaboratively provide 3–5% of the gym’s average daily electricity demand if converted at an efficiency of 64%. The cost of converting the rowing machines resulted in a 33-year payback period.


Energy systems analysis Biophysical economics Energy systems modeling Renewable energy 



This research was supported by the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences (EEES) at Clemson University. We would also like to thank Andrew and Krissy Simmons for their cooperation and for allowing me to analyze their facility, Green City Crossfit. The utility data that they provided were a vital element of this research and is greatly appreciated.

Supplementary material

41247_2018_36_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (184 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 184 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Engineering and Earth SciencesClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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