The University of California, Riverside, is planning to build a greenhouse with a translucent roof that generates solar power while admitting sunlight through to plants below.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports that the greenhouse will serve as a laboratory to probe solar energy production, plant growth and costs of growing food in such systems, says Jeff Kaplan, an associate vice chancellor at UC Riverside.
The technology, developed at UC Santa Cruz, has the potential to create greenhouses that can produce food with no need for outside electricity to power fans or lights. The technology also has been installed at the University of California's Davis and Santa Cruz campuses.
The solar panels at UC Riverside will charge a battery in the 800-square-foot greenhouse. The goal is for the system to convert solar energy to electricity and store all the power the building needs without a connection to the campus electricity network.
The construction budget is $174,000; about $15,000 is for the panels, the university says.
The university expects the greenhouse to be constructed in about two months. Soliculture, a startup company in Scotts Valley, Calif. will provide the translucent panels.