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The smart solar walls enable adequate daylighting within building fenestration while maintaining structural integrity and generating electricity.

Solar Walls could power green transport of the future

Build Solar, a start-up founded by researchers from the University of Exeter, has won funding from the governments Sustainable Innovation Fund to explore whether their technology could be used extensively across UK rail networks in order to harvest solar energy at scale.

The start-up has built an impressive consortium including Arup, Network Rail, HS2 and the Connected Places Catapult who will work together intensively over the next three months prior to determine whether the start-ups technology could be a key part of meeting the UK’s future clean energy needs. 

With over 20,000 miles of narrow rail corridors and over 10,000 buildings assets within the UK rail infrastructure, project manager Jim Williams believes there could be a significant opportunity to deploy Build Solar’s Smart Solar Walls to deliver much needed renewable energy for the electrification of transport in the coming years.

Build Solar was founded by solar researchers Professor Tapas Mallick and Dr Hasan Baig to commercialise innovative optically integrated solar energy technologies into construction materials under development at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall.

The smart solar walls enable adequate daylighting within building fenestration while maintaining structural integrity and generating electricity.

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 potential to create building/infrastructure system as a green power generator contributing UK government’s 2050 low carbon targets”.

The team will report their findings to Innovate UK early in the New Year in the hope of securing follow-on investment to fund further development in 2021.

For more information please visit  https://www.buildsolar.co.uk/smartwalls

Date: 30 November 2020

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