Electric cars and solar power are a perfect combination. Charging an electric car from a solar array reduces its overall carbon footprint. Now a Hungary-based company is bringing these two technologies even closer together with solar driveways.
Platio (via Inhabitat) claims to be the first company to embed solar tiles in a residential driveway. A 20-square-meter (215-square-foot) area of these tiles can handle the yearly energy demands of an average household, according to the company.
Each tile is made from 400 recycled PET plastic bottles, with hardened glass around the solar cells, according to Platio. They are designed to be safe to walk on, and the company markets them for use in walkways and patios as well as driveways.
While this is the first driveway product we’re aware of, there are many solar-road projects already underway.
In 2016, France announced plans to pave 620 miles of road with solar panels, although early trials have exposed durability issues.
Platio solar driveway
That same year, an initiative to pave a section of the historic Route 66 in Missouri with solar panels was announced as well.
Prior to that, Dutch firm SolaRoad embedded solar panels on stretches of bike path in Amsterdam. The first section’s electricity generation even exceeded early estimates. However, it’s worth noting that solar panels laid flat in a roadway are generally at a disadvantage when it comes to harvesting energy. Mounting panels at an angle is generally preferable.
Tesla is the only automaker that also makes solar panels, and has said it wants to make solar products a bigger part of its business. But the company hasn’t discussed solar driveways, and market share of its existing residential solar roof products has shrunk.