The solar-powered walkway that was recently handed over in Groningen in the Netherlands was made of Hungarian solar paving stones. The walkway not only generates green energy but is also a sustainable building solution as it is made of recycled plastic.
How the story began
The idea of PLATIO solar pavement, a Hungarian innovation, came from childhood friends, Imre Sziszák, a mechanical engineer, József Cseh, a chemical engineer, and Miklós Ilyés, a landscape architect, co-founders of the company. While designing urban squares Miklós was shocked by the amount of building materials cities use to build dull, grey pavements meanwhile struggling with the increasing amount of plastic waste. The team came up with the idea: they won’t only make paving stones from recycled waste, but these pavements will generate solar energy as well. After winning a startup competition, private investors took notice of the company and supported product development.
PLATIO presented its first prototypes in 2016 and since then the team of now 16 people has had a worldwide distributor network covering 37 countries.
EU’s new solar footpath
In late March EU’s new solar footpath opened in the city of Groningen, in the North of the Netherlands. The 400m2 pavement in Kolenkade Street is a sustainable walkway created using 2544 PLATIO solar pavers. The green energy generated here powers the municipality’s city hall, making the building more sustainable. This experiment is part of the European Union’s Making City project aiming to develop Positive Energy Districts (PED), demonstrating the potential of innovative solutions to tackle climate-neutral goals.
“This innovative solar footpath contributes to the city’s ambition of becoming CO2 neutral by 2035. PLATIO solar footpath generates electricity while people can simply and safely walk on it. It is an example of how to use space in the city in a smart and sustainable way” – explained Philip Broeksma, Council of Energy from the Municipality of Groningen.
“The solar pavers are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional pavings, as they are a source of renewable energy and do not emit greenhouse gases. This 400m2 solar pavement installation has a projected yearly production volume of 53 000 KW and offsets approximately 18 tons of CO2” – András Sebők, the CEO of PLATIO Solar pointed out.
“This energy production equals 18 average Dutch households’ yearly energy needs” – Theo Hoek from Bengsolar, installer of solar pavement as the Dutch reseller of PLATIO added.
According to András Sebők, PLATIO pavers can be the cornerstone of a carbon-neutral future, as a green building material that contributes to reducing carbon emissions in buildings. The product itself is a net-zero building material. Now, this solar path powers a public building, but communities can use this technology for other uses as well, as it can power buildings and any outdoor utensils as well.
Making smart and sustainable cities
European Commission’s program “Making City” aims at demonstrating how cities can transform their energy systems to become smarter and more sustainable. “Low-carbon” cities with PEDs generate more energy than they consume. It tests and validates the PED concept in two Lighthouse cities: Groningen (Netherlands) and Oulu (Finland). Groningen is pioneering innovations, like this solar footpath that is useful for the community and will serve as an example for the rest of Europe.
Various organizations have collaborated to make this solar footpath a reality, including PLATIO Solar, the manufacturer of solar pavers, BENG Products, Royal BAM Group, and Royal SjoukeDijkstra.