Algae to Energy: Update

14 07 2009
From: Huffington Post, 2009

From: Huffington Post, 2009

This is in addition to my post from June 30, 2009: Reuters News service as well as the New York Times, both stated today that Exxon, the largest western oil company, the same Exxon that has touted renewable energy as not economically feasible, the same Exxon that has supported evidence that denies human induced climate change, The same Exxon that called biofuels ‘moonshine’, may be coming over to the renewable side. We could see Exxon invest over $600 million in the production of fuels from algae. This investment would partner Exxon Mobil with biotech company, Synthetic Genomics. We shant get too hasty though, Emil Jacobs, Exxon’s vice president for Research and Development says we won’t see mass production of this fuel for another five or ten years. One question we may be prone to overlook, is why only $600 million? I know this sounds like a big number, but Exxon’s profits for 2008 were in the area of $45.22 billion. You’ve got to imagine that a larger investment might be able to push this techonolgy to mass markets in a shorter time frame. Yet, we still have to give some praise. If anyone should be investing in renewables, it’s the oil giants. They’ve got the money and power to do the research. Also, it follows that the oil giants will wean themselves off of oil ever-so-slowly once they start investing heavily in renewables.

More about this technology though. The Obama administration is looking for biofuels to make up 36 billion gallons of fuels per year by 2022. Corn-based biofuel only gets 250 gallons per acre each year and has been heavily criticized for doing more harm than good. Algae-based biofuel is able to produce 2000 gallons per acre each year. Still, this sure is a lot of land. A litte bit of math puts it at 18 million acres of land. There are options though. Algae can be farmed in areas unsuitable for crops. Also, it very well may be possible to farm it in sea water, though I can only imagine the possible negative effects of this.

So, with that all said, I don’t know if the winds are finally changing or Exxon just wants to control the future market, but this is news indeed for the renewable energy world. Lets just hope they don’t find a way to destroy the entire algae population or any coral reefs while they do it.

Reuters article: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE56D0O120090714?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/business/energy-environment/14fuel.html?pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

My original post: https://iaminformed.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/algae-to-energy/

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One response

15 07 2009
larry

hello. it would not surprise me the about-face is exit strategy from a market in which lawyers may soon find lucrative contracts chasing fossil-fueled cancer cases into infinity. the absurd notion of algae as a replacement is encouraging research into an area of bioengineering, which may then result in harnessing more realistic sources of biofuels. hopefully it will not develope into a virus attacking algae, which is accidentally released …, nevermind.

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