Solar cells more efficient than plants for harvesting sun’s energyPublished On: Fri, May 13th, 2011 | Photonics | By BioNews
A new study has suggested that as far as harvesting sun’s energy is concerned- solar cells beat plants.
But scientists think they can even up the playing field, said researcher David Kramer at Michigan State University.
Plants are less efficient at capturing the energy in sunlight than solar cells mostly because they have too much evolutionary baggage. Plants have to power a living thing, whereas solar cells only have to send electricity down a wire.
This is a big difference because if photosynthesis makes a mistake, it makes toxic byproducts that kill the organism. Photosynthesis has to be conservative to avoid killing the organisms it powers.
“This is critical since it”s the process that powers all of life in our ecosystem,” said Kramer, a Hannah Distinguished Professor of Photosynthesis and Bioenergetics.
“The efficiency of photosynthesis, and our ability to improve it, is critical to whether the entire biofuels industry is viable,” said Kramer.
The study is detailed in Science.