Global energy use is going to grow 53% by 2035, DOE predicts, and algae-based technology is the best candidate to provide a sustainable energy source to meet that growing demand, says IEEE.
Algae is not an unknown quantity. Major oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil have been researching it as part of their biofuels programs for years; and the U.S. Navy has been working with it in conjunction with nuclear power as fuel for planes, ships and submarines. But the stuff has never gotten top billing, until now.
"An acre of corn can be used to generate 300 gallons of ethanol per year, while an acre of algae can produce 6,000 to 10,000 gallons of light sweet crude oil annually," said William Kassebaum, IEEE Senior Member and CEO of Algaeon Inc.
He went on to add "Algae can make protein 200 times more densely than soybeans," a reference to its use in applications like animal feed and nutritional foods. "Numerous innovative applications for algae are already impacting our lives, but algae for use in biofuels are still limited due to availability of capital to grow the industry."
While IEEE is lobbying for the development of algae-based technologies, it also is promoting wind power as the premier renewable energy source among more traditional, if relatively new, renewables generation technologies. IEEE says the cost of energy from wind farms is falling in line with those of conventional fossil-fired plants, and that in the last decade, individual wind turbines have hiked their output capacity from 500 kilowatts to more than 5 megawatts without significant cost increases.
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