Innovation That Matters

Solar cubes

Transparent solar energy cubes double up as a building material


The innovation from the University of Exeter could encapsulate the future of green building with its multi-purpose capabilities.

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Researchers from the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter in the UK have created Build Solar, a company that harnesses solar power creation and building into one entity. Its key product coined Solar Squared are glass blocks that are embedded with linked solar cells. In direct sunlight, a group of the transparent blocks can generate enough energy to power an entire building.

The company is led by entrepreneur and solar scientist Dr Hasan Baig and renewable energy scientist Professor Tapas Mallick, in collaboration with Glass Block Technology Limited. The team aim to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of a building’s architecture in places where energy demand is highest, while having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.

Regarding sustainability, Solar Squared’s lifetime costs are lower than an equivalent glass block wall due to the free electricy generation and improved thermal insulation. The cubes can also be tinted to prevent rooms overheating and are available in a variety of colours purely for aesthetic pleasure.

Solar powered infrastructure is popular among architects and visionaries alike, and green methods as a result of damning research on global warming are becoming commonplace. In the UK, London’s first ‘eco-street’ shopping destination opened earlier this year, and the world’s largest data centre has revealed plans to become solely reliant on renewable energy. How could you incorporate green methods into your day-to-day activities?




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