Sue A. Carter’s Renewable Energy Physics Laboratory at University of California, Santa Cruz has been developing this renewable energy technology over the last four years in collaboration with plant physiologists, microbiologists, engineers, and greenhouse growers. ERA funding for this project is matched by funding from Abengoa, a Spanish utility company who has been backing technology development.

Wavelength-Selective Solar Collectors (WSSCs) are composed of a glowing red glass panel that absorbs green light unutilized by plants and emits red light. The red light) is concentrated onto a low density of solar cell strips attached to the glass panel, enhancing their power generation by 50%. It increases the red light onto the plants, being the wavelength that is most photosynthetically active, and favorable for fruit production.

ERA is funding the installation of 1,500 ft2 of electricity-generating WSSC panels directly into the roof of a section of a greenhouse facility in Brooks and monitoring the electricity-generation as well as the health and fruitfulness of the vegetable crops grown beneath the WSSCs. UC Santa Cruz worked in conjunction with the Red Hat Co-Operative greenhouse growers, drawing from their expertise to assure meaningful results from the trial. The funding also covers an installation of 500 ft2 into the aquaponics greenhouse facility in Edmonton headed by Dr. Nick Savidov. In addition to the installations, the grant will also fund research to further develop the technology to attain a higher efficiency. This technology could reduce GHG emissions by 80 to 100 kgCO2-eq/year per m2 of installed panel by replacing fossil fuel generation power with solar-generated power and by converting CO2 exhaust and heat from fossil fuel power sources into O2 and biomass by plants grown within the greenhouses.