This collaborative BPV research at Cambridge University funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) could send serious ripples through the renewable energy sector if it reaches commercial scale. Algae and moss are fast-growing organisms that require little more than a bit of sun and water to stay alive. While these organisms are in the midst of photosynthesizing, energy can be extracted from them to power photovoltaic panels. Driver and Peralta believe that this technology could compete with silicon-based solar panels in the next 5-10 years, which is compelling since solar panels are often criticized for being resource-heavy to develop.
Applications for BPVs are numerous: moss in a table can be harvested directly to power a lamp, an array of algae-powered solar panels can be used for domestic consumption, and a near-shore generator can harvest desalinated water, or a forest of solar collecting masts can harvest water to keep energy-generating algae alive. If this concept rocks your socks as much as ours and you live in the UK, be sure to stop by the London Design Festival in September to chat with Driver and Peralta in person about the latest, most exciting development in renewable energy.