These roof tiles convert the sun rays into electricity, Source: Dyaqua

Pompeii features ‘invisible’ PV panels in the form of roof tiles

Pompeii features ‘invisible’ PV panels in the form of roof tiles

This paves the way forward to introducing modern technology in heritage sites without spoiling the aesthetics

Visitors to Pompeii like to stroll down the streets of the ancient town admiring the Roman architecture and art and envisioning what daily life must have been like there some 2000 years ago. Little do they know, however, that since 2018 a pilot project has introduced solar panels on some of the houses, panels that are in a sense “invisible”.

The trick is that these specially crafted, and artisanal, solar panels are made in the shape of traditional terracotta roof tiles. The tiles are custom produced by a company called Dyaqua in the town of Camisano Vicentino (also in Italy).

"They look exactly like the terracotta tiles used by the Romans, but they produce the electricity that we need to light the frescoes," says Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, as quoted by Techxplore. This solution is part of a more comprehensive strategy to turn costs into savings opportunities and embrace sustainable development.

The director added: "Pompeii is an ancient city which in some spots is fully preserved. Since we needed an extensive lightning system, we could either keep consuming energy, leaving poles and cables around and disfiguring the landscape or choose to respect it and save millions of euros."

Sustainable heritage conservation

Ancient sites, such as Pompeii still need electricity to operate as tourist destinations, which in turn means disrupting the authentic environment to introduce technological solutions, such as cables. It brings the site into the modern age, but it also changes the aesthetics.

And this is where an invention, such as the PV tiles comes in very handy pointing to a solution where modern technology can be integrated seamlessly.

The PV tiles are made from a polymer compound, which allows the sun's rays to filter through. The photovoltaic cells are then integrated into it by hand and covered with a layer of the polymer compound. The manufacturer says that they can be made to emulate different textures, such as stone, wood and concrete.

The tiles were also installed in the Thermopolis and recently in the House of the Vettii. "We are an archaeological site, but we also want to be a real-life lab for sustainability and valorization of intangible heritage. Our initiative is not merely symbolic. Through the million tourists who visit us every year, we want to send a message to the World: cultural heritage can be managed differently and in a more sustainable way," concludes Zuchtriegel.



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