Green Electricity: Dutch Company Finds a Way to Harness Power From Plants


People around the world could soon be charging their smartphones, tablets and WiFi hotspots by plugging them into their household plants. Plant-e, a young Dutch company has found a way to harness energy from living plants and debuted its project “Starry Sky,” where more than 300 LED lights were illuminated at two different sites in the Netherlands.

Plant-e develops products in which electricity is generated with living plants and their technology allows them to generate electricity at practically every location where plants can grow and water is sufficiently available. Marjolein Helder, co-founder and CEO of Plant-e, believes that this technology could mark the the dawn of a new era in clean energy.

So how does this technology work? Through photosynthesis a plant produces organic matter. Part of this matter is used by the plant for its growth and a large part that can’t be used is excreted into the soil via its roots. Bacteria in the soil break down the organic matter and release electrons in the process. Using electrodes, the electrons can be harvested as electricity.

Just imagine if all the roofs in your cities were full of plants and trees powering your homes and offices. You could forget about paying your energy bills, pretty cool isn’t it? The company’s founders are also trying to figure out how to do this in a cost-effective way as they hope to bring electricity to isolated and poor regions of the world where plant life is abundant.