(UR) Barcelona, Spain — Solar power, as we know, is a great source of energy: it’s renewable, it comes from the sun — the list goes on. Unlike humans, nature has “known” that the sun is a fantastic energy generator for, well, ever. Photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert solar power into chemical energy and nutrition, has even been an inspiration for scientific research into solar electricity. For one Barcelona-based start-up, photosynthesis is more than just inspiration, it is a solution.

Currently in development by Arkyne Technologies, the Bioo Lite is an invention that turns plants into sources for clean, renewable electricity. By placing a panel in the soil of a potted plant, the Bioo Lite produces enough energy to charge your smartphone up to three times a day. Once placed beneath the soil, the panel draws an electrical charge from the photosynthetic interaction between plant, sun, and soil, and feeds it through a USB port that can fit most smartphones.

According to their Indiegogo page, the Bioo Lite can use any plant to charge your phone. More amazingly, the technology is scalable — larger panels placed beneath larger plants are capable of providing more electricity, though the exact output is not clearly stated on the company’s sites.

Technology of this kind is not specifically new, and the Bioo Lite does have some competitors out there offering similar plant- and soil-based electricity generation capabilities. One similar invention, the Plantalámpa (“plant lamp” in Spanish) was developed by the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) of Peru, in hopes of helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based and unhealthy kerosene-based lights in certain regions.

As the world is learning from the example of photovoltaic-based solar energy production, development of technology absolutely helpsit become more accessible and more affordable. With the development of the Bioo Lite, its Chilean competitor the E-Kaia, and the Plantalámpa, the future for plant-based solar electricity is getting brighter.

Considering that even the renewable, sustainable photovoltaics used in the collection of solar electricity are not entirely free of environmental impact, perhaps a plant-based solution will offer an even more sustainable energy source — one that is literally growing on trees.

This article (These Guys Figured Out How to Turn House Plants Into Phone Chargers) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris “Kikila” Perrin and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to undergroundreporter2016@gmail.com. Image credit: Flickr/lukestehr