Music festivals seem to be the place to have alternative energy exhibitions; last March, SXSW in Austin served as the venue for the debut of GE’s “Carousolar,” a solar-powered carousel where festival goers could ride (or simply charge their mobile phones) with the power of the sun. Now that Lollapalooza has arrived, the folks at Toyota and the non-profit organization Global Inheritance have set up the “Prius Playground” — now in its second year — so that festival goers in Chicago can also discover alternatives to fossil fuels. The catch is, they themselves are the source of energy.
Participants can pedal bikes to spin turbines to generate electricity, but more fun than that is creating energy by riding a see-saw. Power produced from both playground rides are stored in an Energy Well, which is used to create snow cones — free to those who participate and literally work for it. Lazy people can still learn about energy production by checking out a display that shows energy production of the playground in real time.
The Prius Playground will continue to make the rounds to future music festivals as time goes on. And who knows? If the trend of producing your own power works at music festivals, how soon will it be before we’re pedaling or riding a see-saw to power the iPods we use to continue the music once the stage lights go dim?