Researchers grown crops inside electricity, and generates solar greenhouse as healthy as those raise in normal greenhouses. These “smart” greenhouses hold to great promise for use both farming and renewable electricity production.
“These ‘smart greenhouses’ capture solar energy for electricity without reducing plant growth, which is pretty exciting,” said Michael Loik, professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems
Electricity-generating solar greenhouses use Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs). These greenhouses outfitted with transparent roof panels implanted with a dye, magenta luminescent, which absorbs light and transfers energy to small photovoltaic strips, where electricity produce.
WSPVs absorb blue and green wavelengths of light, and allowing the plants to grow. However, he research team observed photosynthesis and fruit production across 20 varieties of plants and basil grown in magenta glasshouses at two locations on campus and one in Watsonville, California.
“Eighty percent of the plants weren’t affected, while 20 percent actually grew better under the magenta windows,” said Loik. Tomatoes and cucumbers among the top greenhouse-produced crops worldwide, he said.
With other experiments, small water savings associated with tomato photosynthesis inside the magenta glasshouses. however, the plants required 5 percent less water to grow the same amount as in more normal glasshouses, he said.
“I thought the plants would grow more slowly, because it’s darker under these pink panels. The color of the light makes it like on the Red Planet,” said Loik. However, plants are sensitive with light but also to color.
Greenhouse electricity controls temperature and electricity. “This technology has the potential to take greenhouses offline,” said Loik. To compare with the cost of traditional silicon-based photovoltaic cells, the WSPV technology is 65 cents per watt.
“If greenhouses generate electricity on site, that reduces the need for an outside source, which helps lower greenhouse gas emissions even more,” said Loik.
More information: [UCSC]
Journal information: [Earth’s Future]