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From greenhouses to green plants

As governments drive green policies, the average person becoming more and more environmentally aware, scientists put forwards their best efforts at creating the opportunities for sustainable living.

The latest focus is on greenhouses, or more precisely on their transformation into power plants.

The innovation comes from North Carolina State University (NCSU), where a team of six scientific experts has come together to modify the current greenhouse. The primary idea is to equip the surfaces of the houses with solar cells that would take advantage of the complete spectrum of sunlight – a development from the current solar cells that cannot separate light. Instead, this technology aims to split the light in two; the solar cells would absorb the wavelength of the light unused by the plants to create energy, with the rest of the sunlight passing into the greenhouse for the plants to use. Therefore, it would not damage or take away from the plants but rather maximise efficiency.

Should the project succeed, it would be a first major step towards smart solar cells. Such an advance could very well mean revolutionary development in using sunlight for green operations, or even enhancing plant characteristics – the researchers aim to simultaneously design the cells to work in various climates as well as “complement plant growth.” The latter would be possible through cellular temperature regulation that could also mean saving on water costs.

It is certainly an interesting combination of old school and new world technologies and will likely attract much attention. The project is scheduled to take place over the next four years with the funding already secured from INFEWS. In the meanwhile, it is worth keeping an eye on.