Dropping concrete blocks to generate energy

Amsterdam Drops, a project by Sinds 1416 and Studio Floris Schoonderbeek, aims to help solve Amsterdam’s energy problem by generating and storing energy by lifting and lowering balls of recycled concrete.

The project wants to make use of an existing and traditional architectural element of the historical buildings in the city centre of Amsterdam: the so called ‘Hijsbalk’ or lifting beam. This beam is attached to many houses in Amsterdam and were originally used by merchant to lift goods upwards to the attics of canal houses.

The Amsterdam Drops system is designed to lift and lower balls of recycled concrete of 500 kilograms. The balls transform gravity into electricity and save it for later use, like a low-tech battery.

The plan is to attach the concrete to the lifting beams. A surplus of solar or wind energy produced elsewhere activates a small electric motor to lift up the weight. When energy is needed, for instance to light households or lampposts at night, the balls come down by means of gravity and generate energy.

During a power blackout, the system can be manually operated, providing the city with energy independence.

Amsterdam Drops is one of the nominees of the Clean Energy Challenge.

Photos: Sinds 1416 / Studio Floris Schoonderbeek