Our roads, pedestrian pathways and street furniture can spend much of their days just sitting there doing nothing. Budapest startup Platio has spent the last couple of years developing a modular, self-contained paving panel that harvests the sun's energy to produce electricity. The panels have recently been rolled out in front of a shopping mall, at a harbor and integrated into outdoor seating.
The Platio panel joins a number of projects looking at tapping into the renewable energy potential of open spaces, including Solar Roadways, Wattway by Colas and Pavegen. Its PV-packed paving units are covered with high strength, anti-slip glass, are manufactured using recycled plastic waste and house all the necessary wiring and cables for quick install.
The startup's first permanent installation is made up of two pedestrian-friendly banks of paving panels at either side of the entrance to the Green Quarter shopping mall in Astana, Kazakhstan. The paving units cover a total of 80 square meters and are rated for 11.7 kW peak output. The electricity produced helps towards reducing the shopping mall's need for grid power.
Platio also partnered with Marina System Ibérica S.L. to lay down some more panels on harbor pontoons in Sweden, which will supply electricity for ships and port facilities.
And most recently, a collaboration with Hello Wood has resulted in panels installed in curvy public benching at a pop-up park in the startup's home city of Budapest in Hungary. Electricity produced by the smart benches will be used to charge mobile devices plugged into USB ports dotted around the furniture, or wirelessly for Qi-compatible smartphones and tablets.
The video below, with English subtitles, looks at the energy harvesting benches.