While most plants only function at around 5% energy conversion efficiency (compared to 15%-20% of most current silicon based PV modules) much of the” inefficiency” is a result of not having chlorophyll molecules packed into every part of the leaf. If only we could harvest chlorophyll molecules and cram them all together. Imagine painting a Nissan Leaf with ChloroGoo paint and creating a truly self-sufficient vehicle.
Of course other researchers are getting amazing results with non-organics as well, many of the solar cells used to power satellites are in the 40% efficiency window and labs are breaking new records on a monthly basis with materials that promise to be cost effective for us mere mortals. PV panels using multi-junction and GaAs (gallium arsenide) technologies, to name a few, are making monumental strides in hyper efficient solar electric power generation.
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The future is bright indeed!
California Certified General Electrician