Tech Swarm

Solar paneling is usually the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of harvesting energy from the sun.

Solar power modules essentially replicate how plants absorb photons from light energy. Well, instead of using solar panels that replicate plants, dutch company Plant-e is using the plants themselves.

This technology brings new meaning to the term “power plant”.

While collecting energy from plants is not a new concept, Plant-e is the first company to utilize the technology without harming the plants. The process of collecting energy from plants isn’t extremely complicated. Microbes break down waste sugars leftover from the plant during photosynthesis, and turns them into protons and electrons; then Plant-e uses electrodes to mobilize electrons into usable energy. Imagine using your lawn to power your electric car, or your green roof to power your house!

This technology is still in developmental stages and needs to catch up to solar and wind turbine technology in order to compete in open markets. Plant-e founder and CEO, Marjolein Helder, believes this technology adds a new angle to the pursuit of clean renewable energy.

Starry Sky, and a similar project an hour’s drive away, near Plant-e’s Wageningen headquarters, are the two first commercial installations of the company’s emerging technology. Both power lighting, but the company also sells Wi-Fi hot spots, mobile chargers, and rooftop electricity modules, all fueled by the byproducts of living plants.

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