Build Solar, a start-up founded by researchers at the University of Exeter has won funding from the Sustainable Innovation Fund to explore whether their solar walls technology could be used across rail networks to harvest solar energy at scale.
The smart solar walls enable daylighting within building fenestration while maintaining structural integrity and generating electricity.
With over 20,000 miles of narrow rail corridors and over 10,000 building assets within the UK rail infrastructure, the researchers believe there is a significant opportunity to use solar walls to deliver renewable energy for the electrification of transport in the coming years.
The start-up has built a consortium including Network Rail and HS2 who will work together over the next three months to determine whether their technology could be a part of the UK’s clean energy needs.
The team will report its findings to Innovate UK in 2021 with the hope to secure investment to fund further development.
Dr Hassan Baig, Technical Director said: ‘With limited space available in both towns and rural communities, finding ways to harvest solar energy efficiency on vertical structures that are sensitive to the needs of both the environment and the communities that live nearby has been a key objective for our research team.’
Professor Tapas Mallick added: ‘Delivering construction materials that incorporate optically integrated photovoltaic technology in an aesthetically attractive way is a logical next step for achieving energy-positive sustainable buildings and infrastructure.
‘Such technology has the potential to create building/infrastructure system as a green power generator contributing UK governments 2050 low carbon targets.’
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