The Best Way to Use the Sun’s Energy

There is so much talk these days about developing alternative forms of energy, especially solar.  But there is one idea that’s so obvious that I’m surprised I didn’t see it coming.

An artificial leaf.

I first saw this idea on a LinkedIn post from Bill Gates, which led to “The Race to Invent the Artificial Leaf” by Varun Sivaram (, which is actually an excerpt from Sivaram’s book Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet.  Basically, Sivaram’s message is the sun is still such an erratic supplier (like at night) that we need more innovation before we can count on replacing fossil fuels.  Innovation like making our own leaves.

As one might expect, it’s not easy.  The article is a very detailed discussion of the challenges involved, but it’s written in language that even I can understand, so it’s an instructive read.  I imagine the rest of the book is like this excerpt (although I doubt I’ll ever be able to find the time to read it).  But that shouldn’t discourage anyone else; this is probably our future.

Can we really copy nature?  Well, we found a way to fly without feathers, didn’t we?

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