Solar Squared: Electricity-generating solar bricks changing the way we build

Solar Squared – a modular glass brick embedded with near-translucent photovoltaic solar cells that can generate electricity – is to revolutionise how buildings are constructed sustainably.

Similar to the solar tile created by Tesla, Solar Squared is an innovative 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 Solar Squared blocks are designed to fit seamlessly into either new buildings, or as part of renovations in existing properties. They 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.   

The technology is currently being developed by experts from the University of Exeter, who launched a start-up company, Build Solar, in 2017 to market and produce the pioneering product.

Last year, Build Solar won funding from the UK Government’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to explore whether their technology could be used extensively across UK rail networks in order to harvest solar energy at scale.

With over 20,000 miles of narrow rail corridors and over 10,000 buildings assets within the UK rail infrastructure, project manager Jim Williams believes there could be a significant opportunity to deploy Build Solar’s Smart Solar Walls to deliver much needed renewable energy for the electrification of transport in the coming years.

The smart solar walls enable adequate daylighting within building fenestration while maintaining structural integrity and generating electricity.

Dr Hassan Baig, founder of Build Solar, said: “With limited space available in both towns and rural communities, finding ways to harvest solar energy efficiency on vertical structures that are sensitive to the needs of both the environment and the communities that live nearby has been a key objective for our research team.”

The patent-pending technology is currently at feasibility stage.

Build Solar

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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