Turbo photosynthesis for higher yields

30 January, 2018

By 2050, over 9 billion people need to be fed on this planet, while food production will take place under increasingly difficult conditions. Water, nutrients and energy are all becoming scarcer. Agricultural lands are becoming exhausted and are being lost due to erosion. Harvests are failing as a result of climate change. We have to produce sustainably if we want to guarantee healthy and safe food for everyone in the future.

This will require radical changes to the system or game changers: organisational, social and technological transformations that focus on new basic principles for future solutions. Three Top Sectors for enterprise and innovation in the Netherlands, Agri & Food, Horticulture & Starting Materials, and High-Tech Systems & Materials, devised eight game changers, which together make up one global game changer.


Making better use of solar energy


The sun provides us with an abundant supply of energy. If we can capture and store it effectively, we will have a sustainable energy source. BioSolar Cells’ work focuses on improving the system by which plants, algae and some bacteria capture energy from sunlight. By doing so, this research programme contributes to achieving more sustainable production of food, energy and green raw materials for industry.

More food and more sustainable energy

Global demand for sustainably produced energy and food is growing, spurred by the need to find a solution to the consequences of shrinking fossil fuel reserves, climate change, a growing world population that needs to be fed, and increased prosperity. The possibilities for expanding the amount of land used for agriculture are limited; therefore we need to search for ways of making more efficient use of solar energy. While much work has been done on photovoltaic solar cells, BioSolar Cells is exploring new possibilities, developing photobiological solar cells.
About BioSolar Cells

The sun: a source of sustainable energy

Today less than 10% of electricity in the Netherlands is generated from solar energy. But we would need to generate 35% of our electricity supply from sustainable sources by 2020 to comply with EU agreements. For transport fuel we still rely mainly on fossil fuel sources, which slowly but surely are dwindling. The immense potential of the sun makes it our most important source of sustainable energy.
The potential of solar energy

Algae, plants and artificial leaves

Algae are an excellent source of raw material for fuels, foods and materials, which is why BioSolar Cells does research on how to produce algae efficiently. Another focus of our research is on photosynthesis itself: if we can improve photosynthesis in plants, we can make crops grow more quickly. BioSolar Cells is also exploring ways to make technical systems that can mimic photosynthesis: artificial leaves.
BioSolar Cells research


To increase the chance of success for energy-related innovations, BioSolar Cells devotes a lot of attention to training activities for secondary, higher professional and university education. We develop materials for school projects, small-scale experiments suitable for classroom use, and special programmes for undergraduate and post-graduate courses.
BioSolar Cells and education


Energy policies, the world food supply, climate change and modern technology are all hotly debated issues. If crops are grown on a large scale for the production of biofuels, this may have consequences for the amount of food available to low income populations and affect nature too. Views on climate change, and how we should go about dealing with this, vary widely. And the same is true for certain new technologies and their applications, such as genetic modification and nanotechnology.

Biosolar Cells debate


BioSolar Cells consists of 9 Dutch research institutes and over 30 companies in and outside the Netherlands.


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