Renewable energy experts from the University of Exeter are developing a new solar photovoltaic technology could replace solar panels in building-integrated PV installations, researchers claim.
The technology could accelerate the widespread introduction of net-zero energy buildings through the latest Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), replacing solar panels in building-integrated PV installations.
According to the researchers, the solid glass blocks are similar to
Tesla’s solar tiles and can be incorporated into the fabric of buildings through new construction or alterations.
The blocks, called "Solar Squared", were designed to fit seamlessly into either new buildings, or as part of renovations in existing properties. They are similar to existing glass blocks by allowing daylight to resonate around a property by replacing traditional bricks and mortar with transparent glass bricks.
Solar squared blocks have intelligent optics that focus the incoming solar radiation onto small solar cells, enhancing the overall energy generated by each solar cell. The electricity generated will then be available to power the building, be stored or used to charge electric vehicles.
Dr Hasan Baig from University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute said BIPV is a growing industry with a 16 per cent annual growth rate.
"Setting up a company, which can cater to this growing market shall prove beneficial for the UK economy in the long term.”
Build Solar chief scientific advisor Professor Tapas Mallick said the point of building Solar Squared was to create an affordable, efficient and attractive solar technologies, which have the smallest impact on the local landscape.
"It’s an exciting venture and one that should capture the imagination of the construction industry, when looking to develop new office blocks and public buildings or infrastructure projects such as train stations and carparks."These blocks can become a part of a building’s architecture to generate electricity. The team have created an glass block, which can be incorporated into the fabric of a building and is designed to collect solar energy and convert it to electricity.
The Build Solar team believe their blocks have better thermal insulation than traditional glass blocks, as well as providing power to the building. The patent pending technology is at prototype stage and the team are now in the process of fine-tuning their designs in order to test the technology at pilot sites.