New solar panels harness the full light spectrum to improve crop yields

According to a new study from the University of California, the blue part of the light spectrum is the most efficient for solar energy production, while the red part is better for plant growth and crop yield. Now, scientists are investigating how harnessing the sun’s complete light spectrum can improve agrivoltaic system’s effectiveness in arid agricultural areas.

Earth’s Future published the research paper “Not All Light Spectra Were Created Equal: Can We Harvest Light for Optimum Food-Energy Co-Generation?” and Majdi Abou Najm, associate professor at UC Davis’ Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources and co-author of the study, said in a press release:

“This paper is a door opener for all sorts of technological advancements. Today’s solar panels take all the light and try to make the best of it. But what if a new generation of photovoltaics could take the blue light for clean energy and pass the red light onto the crops, where it is most efficient for photosynthesis?”

According to EcoWatch, the scientists behind the study developed a computer model for photosynthesis and transpiration that accounted for varied light spectra. How different plants like basil, strawberry, and lettuce responded to differing light spectra was reproduced by the computer model in a lab. The scientists found that the red spectrum could be perfected for food growth, and the blue spectrum could be filtered to generate solar energy.


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