The pavement of the future is a new type of pavement made from recycled plastic. It was launched by the Hungarian company Platio and is unique in that it absorbs sunlight, which it converts into electricity that can power a house or various electrical devices (solar energy for home).
Solar panels on the roofs of buildings no longer surprise anyone. They have become commonplace and, for many people, a matter of course. Obtaining energy from the sun, i.e. without harming the environment and, in fact, for free, makes sense.
Imre Szyszak, one of the founders of the Hungarian company Platio, agrees, but instead of solar panels, he has started producing solar panels for paving pavements (solar energy for homes). Just two square meters of such a pedestrian surface can produce enough energy to power a street light and a USB charging station.
“We use recycled plastic which, complemented with modern solar technology, provides a very strong and durable surface. The grey part is recycled plastic. We use about two kilograms of recycled material per panel, which we mold with a composite mold to produce this plastic element. We then mount a solar panel on it,” explains Szyszak.
The top layer of each piece is a panel of tempered glass with a non-slip coating. Due to this composition of each panel, walking on such a pavement or parking vehicles on it cannot damage its technology.
The pavement consists of square pieces measuring 34 x 34 x 6.1 cm. Nine of them can fit on a square meter with a very thin overlap. To produce this quantity, the company uses the same amount of material that is obtained by recycling 400 PET bottles.
But if we have solar panels on the roof, what good is a solar track, ask Reuters editors interviewed by Shishak.
“There are many cases where users cannot place them on the roof, either because of the inconvenient location of the house or because of the type of roofing system or its design. In these cases, a solar track is a very good alternative,” he replies to them.
He also points out that the pavement developed by Hungarians is comfortable, looks neutral, and therefore suits most people’s tastes and can completely replace the conventional pavement. However, it also produces energy.
While rooftop solar panels come in different sizes, basic solar paving so far has only one size. And that, given the areas that can be covered with paving tiles, is not the largest. But manufacturers have a good reason for not wanting to increase the size of the devices.
“This is the size at which we can guarantee that the glass will withstand the appropriate load. Parts are smaller, of course, because glass has a nasty habit of cracking with an electrical discharge. In our tests, this turned out to be the size at which we could guarantee that the panels would not shatter,” explains Szyszak.
While projects like this have so far been part of rather futuristic projects, this type of paving developed by the Hungarians is a real project that already has its first successful installations. On a smaller scale, these include one-meter sections feeding USB charging stations on the streets of Varosliget, or several similarly sized sections in Budapest that provide traffic for billboards.
On a larger scale, a nine-meter plot in the driveway of a family home replaces the solar panels that would otherwise have to be installed on the roof. The nine-meter plot has a capacity of 1.7 kWp.
Currently, the largest installation occupies an area of 80 square meters in the car park of the Green Mall in Astana, Kazakhstan. Here, with a capacity of 12.4 kWp, it powers the center’s air-conditioning system.
The price of the individual parts has not been precisely determined, as each implementation has its own characteristics that significantly affect the final price.
The approximate cost is between 50 and 80 euros per part.