Buildings to generate their own power with innovative glass blocks

Posted: August 16, 2017 by oldbrew in innovation
Tags: ,

Credit: Solar Squared


Leaving aside questions like cost, effectiveness and ease of replacement, the idea is that ‘the electricity generated will then be available to power the building, be stored or used to charge electric vehicles’.

Buildings could soon be able to convert the sun’s energy into electricity without the need for solar panels, thanks to innovative new technology, reports Phys.org.

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).

These products, similar to the solar tile created by Tesla, can become a part of a building’s architecture to generate electricity.


The team have 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.

It is thought 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 of use, whilst being seamlessly integrated into the building.

The blocks, called Solar Squared, 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.

Crucially, however, 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.

Continued here.

Comments
  1. TinyCO2 says:

    A roof tile can reasonably be expected to last 70+ years, brick and slates even longer. I wonder how long solar glass blocks last? Some of these ideas aren’t even worth thinking about, let alone building them.

  2. Curious George says:

    It will generate lots of power wherever Sun shines horizontally.

  3. Kip Hansen says:

    Cute idea — but like flying cars “The patent pending technology is at prototype stage and the team are now in the process of fine-tuning their designs in order to test the technology at pilot sites.”

    Most likely product failure point? Solar cells are not eternal — they fail, they last a fairly short time (in years) — they fail individually (the little solar cells). Ripping out a mortared wall of failed solar glass blocks when replacement is called for does not seem like it will be a popular idea with builders.

  4. Kip Hansen says:

    As TinyCO2 comments — it is not the lifetime of the glass blocks — they have a pretty darned good record — lots of homes in Southern California were built with exterior glass-block walls — it is the life of the embedded solar cells that is the question.

  5. tallbloke says:

    It’ll enhance the earnings of window cleaners for sure. Always plenty of dust in places sunny enough to justify the expense of solar installations.

  6. JB says:

    ROI is too low and maintenance/replacement cost too high.

  7. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Can they collect moonbeams as well, so they generate power at night? Californians will love them!

  8. Mike In Fairfax says:

    So, would the mere construction of such a building automatically create Solar Easements on adjacent property owners preventing them from building anything which would throw a shadow on their monument to stupidity? Lawsuit!!!

    The article doesn’t indicate what percent of available light is converted to power. It can’t be much given the fixed mounting in a vertical wall. What percent of light is ‘wasted’ by allowing it to pass into the building’s interior? Electric car driving workers are not going to want to work in a windowless bunker. Just sayin’. I suppose most of the juice the blocks produce could be used to light the building now that the windows are all blocked. Too funny!

    BTW… what the heck are ‘intelligent optics’? Teensy-tiny motorized reflector dishes? Puh-leeze. They’re ‘intelligent’ only in relation to the suckers who would buy into such a scheme.

  9. The Badger says:

    It would be much more cost effective to simply fill your attic with balloons containing 100% CO2 and take advantage of the back radiation to heat your house. Sturdier thick balloon type structures containing CO2 can then be put into your cavity walls and CO2 inside your double glazing.

    Best not to overdo it though, you need to work through the back radiation calculations using the previously experimentally verified equations published by the IPCC.

  10. Mjw says:

    Expensive gimmick, aside from the fact that the solar component has a limited life span and would be expensive to replace, glass bricks require a galvanized steel frame that would swallow the benefits of any minute amounts electricity they may produce.

  11. oldbrew says:

    ‘used to charge electric vehicles’ – optimistic unless it’s a vast skyscraper with thousands of solar squares, and it’s not winter :/

    Like this for example – but using solar panels (on the service tower).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building-integrated_photovoltaics

  12. Bitter&twisted says:

    The moment I read the word “intelligent” it was obvious that this is a scam, designed purely to generate subsidies.

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