Research in artificial photosynthesis is progressing, but it won't be leaving the lab any time soon.
It'll be at least 10 years before this type of system is a reality. And that's an exceedingly optimistic estimate.
Still, who can resist hoping for artificial plants that behave like the real thing?
If one would have asked that what perspective the author is in, I would have replied that "it seems that the author was writing a article as an objection against false hopes about the synthesis of artificial plants".
Statement 1 indicates that though there is progress in the labs that do research about these plants, but getting the results to real life is not going to happen soon.
In statement 2, the writer expands his claim. He backs up his last sentence saying that even considering that it's going to happen ten years later is a very optimistic assertion.
Finally, in statement 3, since the author wants the audience to make sure he isn't unreasonably biased, he gives a reason of why people like having 'false hopes'; by saying that "Imagine artificial plants that behave like normal ones (plants). Wouldn't it be awesome?" The use of "thing" here, as I believe, is to prevent "plants" from being used twice.
So, by statement 3 the author tells us that though the technology will not be available for at least the next ten years, people tend to make 'very soon' predictions because they like hoping for this technology to be out sooner than its real time; but he does this in the form of a "rhetorical question".