Glass blocks that can harvest solar power

Researchers in Britain have developed glass blocks that can harvest solar power.

Solar Squared glass blocks, developed by a team of researchers at the University of Exeter, contain a layer of small solar cells. The intelligent optics of the blocks focus the incoming sunlight onto the solar cells when placed vertically.

The blocks can be linked and wired to one another, generating power for buildings and electric vehicles, or to be stored in batteries.

The team says the blocks can be embedded in conventional construction designs. Tinting can also be added to prevent too much sunlight from entering the building’s interior. Researchers claim the blocks offer better thermal insulation than traditional glass building materials.

“Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact. We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope,”Dr Hasan Baig, one of the developers of the technology said in a press release.

Startup company Build Solar, which developed the project, is looking for test sites for this technology. A finished product is expected to be available next year.

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