Sustainable Energy

Clean energy… from soccer balls and jump ropes

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Clean energy from soccer balls and jump ropes

The most popular sport on the planet, football – or soccer as it's known in the U.S. – is watched and played by billions of people.

Now, one crowdfunding campaign is looking to use it to bring clean energy and light by sending energy-generating soccer balls and skipping ropes to migrants and refugees living in Calais, France.

"Obviously, a lot of people there are living in self-made camps," James Wood, who came up with the idea for the scheme, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"At night they often don't have a power source to have light which obviously can be used in a number of different ways… to be able to read or give you a bit of comfort before you go to sleep," Wood added. Mobile phones could also be charged using the technology, Wood said.

The idea is to secure funding of £2,000 ($2,890). Currently, £390 has been raised.

It is hoped that the items will be taken to France in February and donated to partners who will be able to distribute them.

Designed by U.S. start-up Uncharted Play, the Soccket is a ball that has been designed to charge up during play, with more power being generated the more it rolls.

According to the company, one hour of play is able to provide users with as much as three hours of light.

The skipping rope – known as PULSE – is a conventional skipping rope that can be charged just by being used. Just 15 minutes of use can generate two hours of light on a portable lamp, according to its makers.

The situation for displaced people from all over the world looking to start a new life in the West is becoming increasingly desperate.

On Monday charity Help Refugees announced that it had been told more than 1,000 people needed to be relocated from a camp called 'the Jungle' to a new purpose built site. "We understand that tents and shelters left behind will be bulldozed," the charity said in a statement.

A coordinator for Help Refugees told the Guardian newspaper that the new facility looked like "a detention center."

Many of the people living in Calais are looking to make the perilous trip across the English Channel in order to start a new life in the U.K.

Wood said he was confident of the target being reached, but acknowledged that the scheme was not a quick fix.

"Obviously, this is not about trying to fix the problem," he said. "(But) if it's just one thing that can make people's lives a tiny bit better… It's a tiny thing, but I guess a tiny thing is better than nothing."

Once the money has been raised for the equipment, it will be sent out to partners on the ground in Calais who will be able to distribute and use them fairly.

The renewable, clean energy coming from the devices was another positive. "It's renewable energy, and the energy is literally made from playing," Wood said.