Andrew Fleming-Brown manages SWG3, an arts complex in Glasgow, Scotland, that hosts massive dance parties in a series of warehouses.
In 2019, he had a light bulb moment.
What if they could harness the human energy being expended by all those sweaty bodies in his warehouses to create a sustainable business?
“We realized that our audiences could be our source of energy,” he told The Guardian.
Brown teamed up with geothermal energy company, TownRock Energy, to make his dream come true. Earlier this month, the club opened to 1,250 clubgoers, writhing to EDM beats. At the same time, a specially designed system transferred the heat from their bodies 500 feet below the ground into a layer of bedrock that acts like a thermal battery.
The bedrock stores the heat until it’s needed to warm parts of the venue.
The Bodyheat system at SWG3 is installed in two of the complex’s largest event spaces – Galvanizers and TV Studio. On average, the technology reduces SWG3’s annual carbon output to around 70 metric tons, allowing them to eliminate three gas boilers. At full capacity, SWG3 could generate 800-kilowatt hours in heat.
But kinetic systems like this are not cheap. Brown told The New York Times, he spent around $500,000. Luckily, he got a grant from Scotland’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Program and bank loans at a low interest rate (before the current economic downturn) to pay for it.
The success of SWG3 has inspired Brown and TownRock Energy to use the Bodyheat system in other places. According to the Times, they have their eyes set on a chain of British gyms, where pumped-up bodies are just ripe for energy harnessing.