Move over, solar freakin' roadways. A Hungarian startup is generating energy from sidewalks with its pavers.
Although conventional wisdom has it that road and sidewalk surfaces aren't the optimal placements for harvesting solar energy, that hasn't stopped the development of 'underfoot solar' products, as this latest entry into the sector illustrates. Platio, based in Hungary, has developed its own version of a solar generating paving system, and is working on a sister product that converts kinetic energy from footsteps into clean electricity.
The current Platio system is built around monocrystalline silicon cells mounted in tempered glass, which are then embedded into a framework of injection-molded recycled plastic, and the pavers are said to be durable enough to stand up to daily traffic. Multiple Platio pavers are connected by clicking them together "like LEGO bricks," and the company shows three different color options for matching or coordinating with existing pavements.
The solar pavers don't look to be heavy hitters when it comes to energy production, considering that they won't be tilted toward the sun at all, although Platio claims a performance of 160W per square meter of installation. And perhaps when complemented with the forthcoming kinetic energy pavers, installations of these types of sidewalk alternatives could provide enough electricity for low-power applications right where the energy is being generated.
"PLATIO is an unconventional, a primarily outdoor energy producing paving system and an alternate to usual pavements. Contrary to most of the applied pavements nowadays, PLATIO does not take material (such as stone, gravel, cement and wood) and energy from nature to build human environment, but uses the normally appearing garbage and energy. Consequently PLATIO is a paving platform made of recycled plastic." - Platio
Platio has raised some seed money, and according to TechCrunch, it has sold approximately 150 square meters of its solar pavers for pilot projects. According to the company website, the team has plans for a few other energy-related applications, including a community energy storage system, holographic "infopavement," and perhaps what might be the best possible use of the technology, solar building facade coverings. There is no indication of when the solar pavers may go into mass production.