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article imageThis solar-powered sidewalk can charge an electric vehicle

By Karen Graham     Feb 15, 2018 in Technology
Budapest - As efficiency and durability in solar panels improves, we're seeing them installed in more and more creative places. Budapest, Hungary-based startup Platio has installed solar pavers on a sidewalk, paired with a charging station for electric cars.
Platio first hit the headlines in July 2017 when it was announced the company had designed a modular energy-harvesting paving system made with recycled plastic. A mere two months later, Platio had developed projects in Hungary, Sweden, and Kazakhstan.
Not only is this company making use of recycled plastic, but it has developed an outdoor, energy producing modular paving system that can also be equipped with information technological functions.
One of the company's first projects can be found at Városháza Park, in Budapest. Platio installed their solar system on a wooden bench. Park-goers can use the "Smart bench" to charge their phones or tablets using either a USB cord or QI wireless. Local design studio Hello Wood installed the park’s wavy wooden benches, Platio founder Miklós Ilyés told Inhabitat.
Platio s smart bench car charge your phone or tablet.
Platio's smart bench car charge your phone or tablet.
Platio
Platio Solar-Powered sidewalk
Measuring 4.7 square meters, or about 50 square feet, the 720 Wp system of Platio Solar Pavers is made up of 40 units and is located at a charging station for electric vehicles on the campus of real estate company Prologis.
Prologis focuses on green development solutions, so they were the perfect test-site for the solar sidewalk. The addition next to the charging stations was practical, and there is the added bonus of the energy generated in the panels being rerouted from the sidewalk to help power the office building next to it when the charging stations are not being used.
The sidewalks can be easily integrated into the environment, causing no disturbance to the way people use sidewalks. In a statement, Platio said they hoped “to demonstrate that by turning energy absorbing paved areas into huge walkable solar arrays, energy production can be achieved at a large scale without taking up useful space or altering the cityscape.”
The solar sidewalk can be easily integrated into the environment.
The solar sidewalk can be easily integrated into the environment.
Platio
“It is important for us to find key partners who support innovative technologies and can give us a chance to try new fields of applications,” Miklós Illyés, co-founder of Platio, said in a Prologis blog post. “With the help of Prologis, we managed to install our first solution for EV charging stations, which is a significant milestone for us and our mission to contribute to e-mobility.”
Platio has bigger dreams for solar sidewalks
Obviously, when the solar sidewalk is in public areas, the energy generated from the sun can be used to provide the juice needed for running street lights or people can easily charge their mobile devices at hubs and benches while waiting at bus stops or cab stands.
Besides public lighting, traffic control systems and other energy consuming street contrivances can be powered independently from the grid using energy generated by the sidewalks, says Platio. And unlike other in-pavement integrated renewable energy technologies, Platio is easy to install and maintain, since it does not require a special foundation and also it is modularly upgradeable with several further smart functions.
Special coatings developed by Platio can prevent mishaps during bad weather.
Special coatings developed by Platio can prevent mishaps during bad weather.
Platio
And the startup also had durability and safety in mind when they developed their product. It would take a massive drop of 10 tons to even create a crack in the sidewalk, and because of the way it is installed, it is protected from thievery. The sidewalk requires special tools to raise, preventing theft.
Platio has also developed various slip protections, based on the climate conditions. For example, an aluminum oxide coating provides plenty of friction in both hot and cold areas. A clear hydrophobic polymer can also be used to prevent water from collecting between a person's shoes and the sidewalk surface, preventing slipping.
At the present time, solar sidewalks are not practical for large-scale energy solutions, yet there is a definite need for this technology, and it will be interesting to see where it leads.
More about Platio, solarpowered sidewalk, Hungary, largescale solutions, Technology