You've been to gyms and "health clubs" and the like. Places where people go and use massive amounts of electricity to burn calories. What if instead, those calories were used to provide power to everybody else?
Look, people pay to go use treadmills and bikes and such. What if they could go somewhere
that had all those same amenities that gyms do, and pay nothing except their sweat AND feel good about how they're saving the environment at the same time? I think many of those people would go.
Obviously, if it's just one person on a treadmill, that person is unlikely to generate much power. My idea is technically difficult but may be workable, if the mechanical logistics can be worked out: Basically, what happens is that every stationary bike, every treadmill, every stairmaster, is hooked up via mechanical linkage to turning a massively huge stone or metal wheel. So what every person is doing is adding their effort to getting that wheel turning faster.
And of course that massive flywheel is turning an electrical generator. What I think is awesome about this is that once all the exercisers get it going, it can still continue to run and create power for, perhaps, hours, even after everybody is gone.
I'm thinking that maybe there could be a big display somewhere towards the "front' of the gym that shows the amount of electricity being generated. I would imagine that many people would get a kick out of running their ass off to raise it from 43.4 megawatts to 43.9. Maybe not.
The only problems:
1. I don't know how the mechanical linkages would work out, and I'm not sure they can actually be done.
2. It would most certainly depend on the local power-generating authority to allow us to sell power back to them, otherwise this place would go broke.
3. Stupid people think it's important that they get that readout of exactly how many minutes they've run and how many calories they've burned, and I can't imagine figuring out how to modify normal exercise equipment to make that work while at the same time actually providing acceleration to the giant wheel that powers the place. Frankly if you've got to provide 120V to your exercise equipment, you're already sapping most of the energy available.
Still, though. If the *major* problem, namely the mechanical linkages providing power from every exercise machine in the place to powering the wheel, can be worked out, I think the other problems are solvable - and worth solving.