Carley Corrado and Sue Carter
Carley explains how the "redhouses" work: "The dye absorbs green light (a section of the solar spectrum where plants do not absorb) and emit red light. The red light serves two functions: 1) It is concentrated onto the solar cell, thus increasing the power generated from the cell by 40%; and 2) It increases the amount of red light onto the plant, thus stimulating earlier flowering and fruiting, and other interesting effects. We have built two test greenhouses, one red and one control, so that we may monitor the plant's growth under the altered spectrum of light compared to the control. We are also doing a trial at a greenhouse in Watsonville. The results have been very promising, so we are preparing to do a larger trial at a commercial vegetable growers' greenhouse beginning in April."
According to Corrado, redhouses reduce electricity costs at "a much faster payback time than typical solar panels because of the enhanced power generated from the concentrated light onto the cell as well as the absence of additional structural costs since the panels are built directly into the greenhouse. It also allows solar energy harvesting from land simultaneously being used for crop production, thus allowing for a second harvest."
They are currently conducting experiments with redhouses in Watsonville and on campus. To learn more about their work, please email Carley.