Further progress towards affordable solar-generating roof tiles hints at a future in which walkovers may be a feature of normal domestic properties’ roofs.
Dr Harry A Atwater of the California Institute of Technology has been working with Dr James C Stevens, a chemist at the Dow Chemical Company, on ways to make solar roof tiles from more affordable materials.
They looked away from rare earth elements like gallium and indium, and looked instead at abundant – and therefore more cheaply available – elements like zinc and copper.
Now they claim to have created materials with record-breaking solar energy potential, a milestone along the path towards roof tiles that can turn entire roofs into solar arrays.
As more and more of these delicate components become commonplace on roofs – whether domestic or commercial – walkovers are likely to be needed to provide access for maintenance workers, without damaging the photovoltaic surfaces of the tiles.
With the scale and potential of properties’ roofs finally being recognised as a way of tackling the world’s need for renewable energy, a much greater number of people will be working at height in the years to come, making safety ladders and walkovers key components in ensuring safe access.