img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2939831959404383&ev=PageView&noscript=1")

Power plants light bus stop

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Just the ticket: bus stop harvests plant power to fuel 24-hour light

Displayed at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the Plant 2 Power Hub is a simple wooden structure, designed by architect MCMM, supporting specially-adapted vertical green walled units and a mixture of regular and semi-transparent solar panels.

The structure aims to provide a 24-hour source of renewable energy, using solar panels during the day and at night harvesting electrons naturally produced by plants through photosynthesis and metabolic activity, and converting them into electrical current. Although the project is a live experiment, the researchers claim it could pave the way for simple and affordable power generation in developing countries.

Professor Christopher Howe and Dr Paolo Bombelli, from the Department of Biochemistry, developed the Plant 2 Power Hub. They previously created a device able to power a radio using the current generated by moss.

Opaque thin-film solar panels developed by Polysolar turn light into electricity on the hub, using mostly blue and green solar radiation.

Panels allow the red end of the spectrum, which is needed for photosynthesis, to pass through and reach the plants growing behind, while preventing the scorching effect of UV light.

Hamish Watson, chief executive of Polysolar, told RIBA Journal: ‘The semi-transparent panels do not absorb the full spectrum and are around 10%  less efficient than conventional PV. However, the team is trying to determine now how much energy can be generated from the plants and whether that can make up the deficit. We are also looking at factors such as how much light can be produced at different times of year, whether it needs to be supplemented with LED lighting, and the detrimental impact on plants of getting too much sunlight.’

The solar panels are based on those Polysolar installs into greenhouses, producing electrical energy to power irrigation pumps or artificial lighting.


 

Latest

Launching our new summer series on inventive house extensions, Artefact co-founder Benedetta Rogers talks about a new wing to a detached home in Epsom, informed by the clients’ Caribbean heritage

Artefact on its new wing for a detached home in Epsom that spurns open-plan living spaces

The founding partner of Gustafson Porter + Bowman explains why she finds landscape architecture so fascinating, how it is great for who she is and why her mantra is ‘the sky is mine’

Why the landscape architect says ‘the sky is mine’

Three borough councils are expected to pipeline their projects through a new agreement designed to build engagement between the capital's public sector clients and a diverse range of architects

Three boroughs are expected to pipeline their projects through new agreement, which launches in May 2025

Howells’ new restaurant building has turned a run-down services area into a leisure asset and made a National Trust house into a local destination

From down-at-heel services area to leisure asset

RIBA-backed platform developed by Grimshaw-led team provides comprehensive guidance and management tools to help cut carbon throughout the building process

Grimshaw-led team's guidance and management tools cover the entire building process