Remember all those buildings loaded with glass block windows that popped up in the 1930’s? They were on to something.
Renewable Energy experts from the University of Exeter are developing a pioneering new technique that could accelerate the widespread introduction of net-zero energy buildings through the latest Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) reports Futurism.
These products are similar to the solar tile created by Tesla, can become a part of a building‘s architecture to generate electricity. The team has created 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.
Estimates are that buildings consume more than forty percent of the electricity produced across the globe. This new technology would allow electricity to be produced at the site and integrated into the building.
Solar Squared blocks are 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; which coincidentally also have better thermal insulation.
But here’s what different than the glass blocks originally invented in the UK back in the 1880s - the 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.
They will reach commercial application next year, and we can only hope that our supermarkets quickly embrace this new building material that may help offset one of the industry’s biggest problems – energy efficiencies.