Every year plants make and store ten times the energy people use.
That’s why many scientists are looking at plants as a possible solution to the world’s energy problems. Energy from plants is available to us in some ways that most of us already know about, such as wood for heating our homes and corn for making gasahol for our cars.
But plants produce and store energy in other, even more remarkable ways. The process of photosynthesis, by which plants use sunlight to create the carbohydrates they need for food, creates electricity, hydrogen, and oil, which is almost all our fuels.
We need to learn how they do it and imitate them. We can also use some of the energy the plants themselves store. The first thing a plant does in photosynthesis is convert sunlight into electricity.
Scientists are now trying to make synthetic leaves in the laboratory that will convert sunlight to electricity the same way a plant does.
If we could separate hydrogen from water the way a plant does, we would have as much fuel as there is water on earth.