Can you think of a building that would generate, store and supply electricity? It sounds unbelievable, right. But that is the goal of Indian and British researchers working together on a solar project in India.
To be specific, a pilot project is underway in five villages to test if the idea can be implemented.
The project, called SUNRISE, will develop printed photovoltaic cells and new manufacturing processes, which can be used to construct solar energy products in India. These will then be integrated into buildings in five villages, allowing them to harness solar power to provide their own energy and run off grid.
The project has taken off the ground only due to 7 million euro funding from the UK government.
A Swansea-led consortium of 12 UK and Indian universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Brunel, and Imperial College London is working on the project.
One of the key aims of the project is to provide a real-life example which proves that this technology works, and that it is appropriate in these communities. The plan is that it will encourage local industries to manufacture affordable prefabricated buildings, adapted for their environment, that can generate, store and release their own power.
The project is in line with the Narendra Modi government’s plan to make India a world leader in solar energy and leap-frog fossil fuels.
The concept of a building as a power station has already been proven to work, with the opening of the energy-positive classroom on the Swansea University Bay campus.
Electricity is generated by a steel roof with integrated solar cells, supplied by SPECIFIC spin out company BIPVco. It is connected to two saltwater batteries, which are being used in the UK for the first time and are capable of storing enough energy to power the building for two days.
The building also uses Tata Steel’s perforated steel cladding for generation of solar heat energy, which can be stored in a water-based system, and an electrically-heated floor coating that has been developed by SPECIFIC researchers.
Professor Dave Worsley of Swansea University, head of research at the SPECIFIC project, and leader of the SUNRISE team, said, “The energy-positive classroom we built shows that this technology works, successfully turning buildings into power stations. The Swansea team will be working closely with our partner universities in the UK and India. Our hope is that if we can show this works on five villages in India, then it could be rolled out to other buildings in India and around the world.”