Today’s Solutions: May 24, 2022

Greenhouses and solar panels both need to be placed in areas with a lot of sunlight – so why not combine the two?

Semi-transparent solar cells could potentially be built into the glass roof panels of greenhouses, capturing light at wavelengths that plants don’t use anyway. Now, researchers at North Carolina State University have modeled how this might work and found that in some climates the cells could produce enough solar energy to make the greenhouse completely self-sufficient.

Organic solar cells (OSCs) have a few advantages over other designs. They still collect energy from sunlight, but can be made more flexible, transparent (or at least semi-transparent) and can be tuned to only absorb certain wavelengths of light. That potentially makes them perfect for greenhouse roofing – they can let most light through for the plants while harvesting enough to offset a decent chunk of the facility’s energy needs.

For this study, the theoretical greenhouses were modeled on the energy needed to grow tomatoes in three locations with different climates – Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. In the famously sunny Arizona, for example, a greenhouse with OSCs installed could become energy neutral while blocking just 10 percent of the light the plants need, which, according to the researchers, wouldn’t harm the plants.

In North Carolina, sunlight is a little more sparse, so a greenhouse would need to block 20 percent of the photosynthetic light to become energy neutral. Chilly Wisconsin winters would be too much to ever achieve neutrality though, but these greenhouses could still generate almost half of their energy needs.

The study, which was published in the journal Joule, could pave the way for self-sufficient greenhouses in the near future.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Mining companies decide against mining Brazil’s Indigenous areas

An important part of the growing movement for the rights of nature is empowering indigenous peoples to steward their lands. Indigenous forests sequester twice as much carbon as those on private or public lands, and ... Read More

Millionaires join activists in Davos to demand higher taxes on the wealthy

Last Sunday, a group of millionaires joined activists in Davos to protest the annual gathering of business and political elites organized by the World Economic Forum. The group demanded that governments start taxing the rich ... Read More

Kyiv opera house holds first performance since start of Russian invasion

In the early hours of February 24, the cultural life of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities came to halt as the country braced to endure the invasion of Russian forces. After three months, Ukraine is ... Read More

Got old electronics? Here’s how to dispose of them properly

Do you have a digital camera? Do you still use it, or does it sit quietly in a desk drawer, out of a job thanks to your iPhone? With the rate at which technology advances ... Read More

It’s going to be a hot summer—Here’s how to handle heat stroke

Last year’s summer already saw record-high temperatures in the United States and Canada, especially across the central and western areas. However, weather reports for summer 2022 also promise a scorcher this year, with hot temperatures ... Read More

Study reveals planktons’ unexpected resilience to global warming

With our changing climate, protecting all impacted organisms on Earth is a huge priority. The planet has gone through previous cycles of heating and cooling, and looking at these periods can give us clues about ... Read More