With LEDs needing less energy to run on we may think we’ve solved all of our energy woes, but in reality that’s just the first step. Think of what’s powering your LED bulb. It’s fossil fuels, and those aren’t very green. Developments have been made in several different alternative energy fields, but now Cambridge University scientists are working with designers to harvest a resource you may not have thought of before—plants.
When plants photosynthesize, they actually give off energy that can be used in biophotovoltic panels, thus creating electricity to power appliances. The idea plants at the moment are moss and algae because they grow quick and can live almost anywhere. Several everyday objects have been rendered by designers to help show that it’s easier to incorporate this power than you think. A table covered in small modules filled with moss powers an ordinary lamp. Giant “power stations” of algae float in the ocean resemble giant lily pads and not only generate the equivalent of a wind turbine, but also generate power at night! A more futuristic design is of “solar masts” which houses giant growths of algae that will produce energy from the sun while being self-sufficient.
It’ll probably be another 5-10 years before biophotovoltic technology becomes available to the market, but they should be able to quickly compete with traditional solar panels since they’re easier to produce.