Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was quick to label Obama’s algae energy notion as “weird”. Well, that tells us a few things about potential President Newt Gingrich, politics aside:
- Grasp of technology is not his forte.
- His long term energy policy is based on premise of oil as an inexhaustible energy source.
- His long term vision, sorry there is no long term vision – “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”.
Let us stick to the point of discussion: what energy policy is weird? Pretending that oil resources are infinite? Or betting on technology advances in harnessing renewable energy? These are actually rhetorical questions because the choice is not ours to make – the era of cheap and abundant oil is over.
Now, why algae, also known as a “pond scum”, has become a hot topic for presidential debates? According to a recently published market study Global Biofuel Production Forecast 2015-2020 the nascent biofuel market will be based on the following significantly sufficient feedstocks:
- food competing feedstocks like corn and vegetable oil cultures;
Algae has made into this list on three major merits:
- Algae is aquaculture that does not require fresh water resources;
- Algae biomass doubles every 24 hours, some species can double every three hours during the peak growth phase. According to estimates algae will yield between 10 and 100 times more energy per unit area than other biofuel crops.
- Waste water is a possible nutrient source for algae.
These features make algae a rather unique feedstock in the very short list of other alternatives. If we are seriously into renewable energy, the most appropriate choice of words when discussing the algae option would be “common sense”, not “weird”.