A Hungarian tech company is taking small steps with recycled plastic waste to make solar panels built into pavements to power buildings and charge electronic devices in public places.
Following the International Energy Agency's recent announcement that solar generated power is now the 'cheapest electricity in history', we can expect to see lots of innovative new solar panel options in the near future. And this idea from Hungary will be one of many.
Their solar cells are protected with hardened glass tiles, which allow their pavements to carry the weight of vehicles, and the secret lies in the small-scale approach, said Imre Sziszak, co-founder of Budapest-based Platio.
“There are no complicated bits in this panel. We use recycled plastic which provides a very strong and durable surface,” Sziszak said while laying down a pavement at a public swimming pool in the north-west town of Komarom on the Slovak border where the solar panels will provide green energy for public lighting and a USB-charging station. “We wanted to make a really simple product that can provide renewable energy for households,” Sziszak added.
One solar panel unit provides about 20 Watts of energy and Platio says it is the only company which uses recycled plastic waste for this purpose. The solar cells are integrated into the pavement by using recycled plastic materials, with about two kilograms needed for each panel, and Platio pavements can be installed where using conventional solar technology is not possible.
“There are many cases when the users cannot put it on the roof, either because the bad position of the house, or because of the system or the roof structure, and in these cases ours is a very good alternative,” Sziszak said.
For a typical family house, a 20 square metre pavement provides sufficient green energy and Platio’s largest project was an 80 square metre pavement in Kazakhstan to power the air conditioning of a shopping mall.
Although the Platio solar pavement is currently more expensive than traditional roof-mounted panels, Sziszak believes the simplicity of the product makes it more versatile.