Within the trend towards an all-renewable future, inventors around the world are coming up with innovative new ways of producing energy - from streetlights in LA that are powered by pedestrians' footsteps, to Germany's Solmove and their solar panel road coverings that can charge EVs inductively using the power of the sun.
And now there's Platio, a young company from Budapest, that has come up with an innovative new technology to answer the question, "We're surrounded by pavements, how can we get them to contribute to sustainability?"
Platio's paving stones are made of high-performance silicon cells covered with a layer of non-slip and extra-durable safety glass. An intelligent control system allows the energy generated to be fed into the grid or used directly by electrical devices and LED lighting. The slabs can even be made with heated filments inside, so that they stay clear of ice and snow in the winter.
The solar paving stones are made primarily of recycled materials such as plastic waste, and can be clicked together like lego blocks. Engineer Imre Sziszák developed the base of the modules, while Miklós Ilyés and József Cseh worked to create the external layer and ensure functionality. So far the team has been able to raise 70,000 USD for the project and has been supported by funding from the EU. Platio blocks can currently be found at three different locations as part of a pilot project.
In Budapest they're integrated into the city's outdoor furniture where they offer people the opportunity to charge their smartphones and also operate electric devices nearby, such as public lighting and traffic control systems - independent of the grid. And they're currently being tested for use in a completely new area - floating jetties at harbours. Areas like this are often exposed to directly sunlight all day, offering an ideal space for energy production.
To see them in action, check out the video below (with English subtitles).