Solar energy was discovered over a century ago as a source of electrical power. However, it has not proven its worth yet as a cost effective way of generating electricity. Scientists are striving hard to find better solutions for harvesting power from the sun that we are naturally blessed with. Now, a team of engineers, mathematicians, and physicists from the University of Exeter have gathered to develop an ingenious solution to cater for our energy needs in the form of solar power bricks.
The solar powered bricks created by the Exeter team are expected to bring a revolution to the future of construction, particularly the skyscrapers that will hopefully become self-sustainable soon.
Dr. Hasan Baig, an entrepreneur and solar scientist, and Tapas Mallick, a renewable energy scientist, have come together to launch Build Solar, the company that will lessen the electricity consumed by buildings all over the world. The University of Exeter said in a statement,
“Many construction materials deployed on the exterior of buildings could become energy-generating and making slight adjustments to the manufacturing process of building materials could have a fundamental impact on the planet’s energy requirements.”
The company aims to develop “technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope” and eventually create an infrastructure where all builds are self-sustainable and produce and store energy at the same site.
The solar bricks are embedded with arrays of intelligent optical elements that focus sunlight on small cells inside. The design is also scalable to bigger buildings. The pretty glass facades used in many buildings can be turned functional with Solar Squared bricks to produce energy for the residents while simultaneously allowing the light to get inside. Dr. Tapas Mallick says,
“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 car parks.”
The project is in the prototype stage at the moment, but the team is looking for the perfect site for building the first model to demonstrate the concept technology. It will hopefully attract more funding to make these Solar Squared bricks a reality.
Solar bricks are not the first technology of the kind, but the transparency of the blocks is a distinguishing feature; the photovoltaic cells are invisible from a distance. ‘Tesla’ recently started selling its solar roof panels, and another company ‘Solar Window’ is also working on the glass energy technology for windows. The Tesla solar roof panels will cost you US$65,000 for a 3,000 square foot roof, but the cost of Solar Squared bricks is unknown yet!
These advanced technologies appear to be the brightest future of our lives, where every part of our buildings will be generating electrical power. The scary energy crisis will soon become a thing of the past. High hopes!