Platio, a Hungarian company, is making solar panels out of plastic waste and using them as pavements. The PLATIO solar paver is a walkable, green building material; capable of powering buildings and electronic devices, delivering solar energy “to places where it was not possible before”.
High-performance solar cells collect the solar energy radiated onto the surface. These cells are protected by heavy-duty, anti-slip, scratch and impact-resistant glass panels. The load-bearing capacity of the walk-on solar panel surface and the protection of the cables is provided by a robust frame structure. And although it’s meant for humans rather than vehicles, the pavement can “easily carry the weight of even a heavy truck,” says founder Miklós Illyés.
The frame of the product is made out of plastic waste that cannot be recycled by other methods, and no new plastic materials are used for its manufacturing. The use of materials and a special manufacturing process results in a highly durable frame structure that can ensure trouble-free operation and installation of solar panels for decades. The company says it uses the equivalent of 400 plastic bottles to make one square metre of solar pavement.
According to the company, the composite material of the frame has better hardness properties and a longer lifespan than concrete with much higher tensile and compressive strength and absorbing significantly less water than concrete.
PLATIO pavers can, and are recommended to be installed where conventional solar technologies cannot be employed, such as windy and tornado-prone areas, in landscape protection zones and around wooden buildings or buildings with lightweight roofs. PLATIO can also be installed for a variety of places, from offices and residential buildings to port infrastructure and smart cities.
“Our product is not made to replace the traditional solar panels on the roof, for example, but to be a complementary effort to use clean energy where other energy resources are not available,” added Illyés.
One solar panel unit provides about 20 Watts of energy. And a 20-30 square metre surface can provide enough energy for a family home in a Hungarian climate. The product is currently available in 36 countries.