Greenhouses already tend to be situated in such a way that they receive a lot of sunlight, so why not incorporate solar panels into them? That's just what University of California, Santa Cruz spinoff company Soliculture has done. But there's one thing to note about its greenhouses – their roof glass is colored magenta. According to a new study, though, it doesn't harm plant growth … in fact, some plants actually do better under the colored light.

The greenhouses utilize what's known as Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs). This technology reportedly "generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems."

Embedded in the roof panel glass is a bright magenta luminescent dye. It absorbs blue and green wavelengths of light, and transfers its energy to narrow photovoltaic strips. It is these strips which produce the electricity. That electricity can be used to power things in the greenhouse such as fans, heaters and watering systems – this could allow the greenhouses to run off-grid, and not rely on fossil fuels.

In a UC Santa Cruz study led by Soliculture co-founder Prof. Michael Loik, a variety of plants were grown in both conventional glasshouses (mini greenhouses) and in magenta ones. These plants included 20 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries and basil. The researchers monitored both photosynthesis and fruit production.

According to Loik, 80 percent of the plants weren't affected by the magenta light, and 20 percent actually grew better. Additionally, tomato plants grown in the magenta glasshouses required 5 percent less water.

"I thought the plants would grow more slowly, because it's darker under these pink panels," says Loik. "Plants are sensitive not just to the intensity of light but also to color. But it turns out the plants grow just as well."

There's more information in the following video.

Source: UC Santa Cruz