And what is it that plants do that need to be replicated? Photosynthesis or the process of deriving energy from sunlight in the presence of nutrients and carbon-dioxide.
According to Erwin Reisner of Cambridge University, the sun produces far more energy that we can ever use for all our needs, despite which we can’t capture enough of it due to the difficult process of capturing and storing it. Yes, solar panels have been around and have successfully challenged the way electricity is produced these days. So effectively, efficient, and economical that it is now an acknowledged threat to fossil-fuel based power generation worldwide. But despite their being effectively, efficient, and economical, they end up using on 25% of the potential which cannot change anytime soon. For the rest we need to look towards plants which have been extracting energy from the time they came about, thought rather inefficiently. Yes, they can at best convert 2% of the sun’s rays into energy. To be commercially viable, we need to have a minimum of 10%.
For that, a small start has been made by the Cambridge University where a device has been made which has a paper-like panel that is submerged in a bath of water and CO2. With sunlight, the panel helps produce formic acid, a kind of dense liquid fuel. A welcome move it is thought replicating it to industrial levels like solar could pose a problem in the present. What is interesting is that funding coming for further research from the US Department of Energy and efforts taken by various known Universitates in the US.
For nay-sayers, remember the time even solar energy was scoffed at? With its raw material costs coming down by a whopping 85% and fuel prices going through the roof, that has proved to be a game changer.
It is thus a question of time, economics and taxation that shall bring this new form of electricity and power production to its desired state, if not now, sometime surely in the future!