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Hungary to pave way for solar pavements

Image credit: Lovelyday12/Dreamstime

A Hungarian tech company is taking small steps towards using recycled plastic waste to make solar panels built into pavements, a solution it says could power buildings and charge electronic devices in public places.

The solar cells, developed by Budapest-based Platio, are protected with hardened glass tiles that allow paved areas to carry the weight of vehicles.

“Roofs are not the only surfaces that can be used for solar energy production,” said Platio co-founder and engineer Imre Sziszák. “Paved areas absorb solar radiation all day long as well. The walkable solar panels of Platio can utilise this new source of clean energy.”

One solar panel unit provides about 20W of energy with Platio stating it is the only company that uses recycled plastic waste for this purpose. The solar cells are integrated into the pavement using recycled plastic materials, with about 2kg needed for each panel. 

Platio says its 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 of 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,” Sziszák explained. 

The system consists of interlocking units called Platio solar pavers. Each paver is made from 400 recycled PET plastic bottles for a product more durable than concrete, according to the company. 

The energy generated by Platio tiles is fed back to the power network. Meanwhile, the company said a 20-square-metre solar pavement can cover the yearly energy consumption of an average household. 

In April, Platio installed the first solar pavement for use on a residential driveway.

In other news, solar power provided 100 per cent of South Australia’s energy needs earlier this month – a world-first for a jurisdiction of its size.

The significant but short-lived milestone was met on Sunday 11 October, when solar power provided all of South Australia’s energy needs between midday and 1 pm. Clear skies and mild temperatures on the day created suitable conditions, with rooftop solar systems accounting for the majority of the output.

Solar power is popular in South Australia, where one in three homes are equipped with rooftop systems and 2,500 of them have been installed this year alone. The 288,000 installed rooftop systems contributed 992MW during that hour, while large-scale solar facilities provided a further 313MW.

“The domination and successful integration of rooftop solar in South Australia foreshadows the rebuilding of jurisdictional power systems in Australia,” says managing director and CEO of Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. “Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power, with consumers’ rooftop solar systems contributing 77 per cent.”

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