Breaking the Cost Barrier on Algae-based Biofuels
It’s been a hot topic for a few years now. And certainly the potential for incorporating algae as a key feedstock for future biofuel production is massive.
But the sobering fact is that we're at least a good eight to ten years from seeing any kind of real, commercially-ready product. At least at the volumes that could allow for meaningful market penetration.
So where does that leave us in the meantime?
Fortune favors the daring
Algae-based biofuels are often the target of naysayers who prefer to criticize early industry obstacles instead of looking for a way to profit from the developments and technologies that allow us to overcome those obstacles.
Fortunes are not made by launching criticisms without solutions.
Fortunes are made by those who seek innovation while others hide behind the safety of mediocrity.
Yes, it'll be years before algae-based biofuels are ready for prime time. But that doesn’t mean we're going to wait around and ignore all the developments that are happening in the world of algae today.
Because one thing's for certain: When that first big opportunity does present itself, we want to be ready to pounce.
So here are some of the latest developments in algae — developments that will help us hone in on which areas are likely to gain the most momentum in this early stage of the game.
Last week, European aerospace behemoth EADS unveiled a new aircraft that runs on biofuel made from algae.
Early tests have shown that the algae-based biofuel has resulted in a 5 to 10 percent fuel savings with no loss of performance. The company is now looking to expand the algae fuel tests with Airbus, Boeing, and other manufacturers.
Also last week, Siemens AG announced that it successfully burned algae-based biomass fuel at a utility-scale power plant.
Combining fuel made by PetroAlgae, Inc. with pulverized coal, the fuel resulted in emissions that were 20 percent lower than coal alone.
While we're definitely not fans of coal-fired power, we know that it's going to be around for some time. And if we can reduce emissions by 20 percent as we transition to a cleaner energy economy— and do it economically with algae — certainly there could be a real opportunity here. Although this should not be seen as anything but a transitional process. With or without minor emissions reductions, the phasing out of all coal-fired power plants is paramount to the success of an environmentally and economically sustainable energy economy.