Generating electricity through energy sources other than coal and nuclear is being debated in legislatures and board rooms around the world. In addition to natural gas, wind, solar and geothermal, there's one zero-emission energy source that we really don't hear much about: prisoner power. But it's real.
Inmates at a facility in Brazil have been given an option to reduce their sentences by pedaling bicycles that generate electricity. It's taking place at a maximum security prison near Santa Rita do Sapucai in the mountains north of São Paolo. See the video below.
According to news reports, doing the local community a solid helps the inmates feel better about themselves and improves their health. Gilson Rafal Silver, the prison director, says prisoners can exercise and lose weight. As for reducing their sentence, every 24 hours of pedaling reduces their prison stay by one day. The energy lights up city lights.
In this age of government budget cuts and energy efficiency, does it make sense for prisoner power to become a viable alternative? Human power is also considered by some to be an important transportation power source, by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association, for example. Do these power bikes count?