Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Algae Schmalgae; if it’ll Replace Oil, WE'RE FOR IT!

We don’t know Thing One about algae; frankly, we feel a little squeamish around the stuff and wonder what happens if you get some on you. Surely someone more comfortable with algae like Jan TenBruggencate and his Raising Islands blog will weigh in on the news that a new biofuel facility will be built on Maui, displacing oil as soon as 2011.

Our simple test when reading these announcements is whether a project will reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuel. This will, so we’re in the cheering section here on the sidelines.

Now when it comes to other forms of renewable energy like ocean thermal energy conversion, we grab a flag and march out there in front of the band along with the ROTC color guard (something we actually did a thousand years ago).

We try not to let more than two posts go by without mentioning OTEC, which was the original inspiration for this blog right from its start. So in addition to algae, we hope you’ll consider what OTEC could do for this island state, which is 92 percent dependent on fossil fuel for its energy and 77 percent on oil for electricity generation.

The price of oil may have fallen more than $6/barrel today, but it’s not a trend. Put your money on OTEC -- along with algae, of course.


prh said...

Biofuel derived from algae is in theory sixteen times more efficient than palm oil acre per acre.  Algae production systems can be built on marginal land, unfortunately not the case on Maui, and irrigated with seawater so there is minimal competition for resources. Existing diesel engine cars, trucks and equipment can burn algae biofuel and commercial jetliners may some day soon tank up on biojet processed from algae for their trip home. Algae biofuel farms could use OTEC spent cold water which has nutrients and CO2.  The two systems would be natural complements.

Doug Carlson said...

Thank you again, prh, for chiming in with helpful observations. I have a feeling it won't be too much longer before the diverse technologies merge to create a whole much greater than the individual parts. Good to see that OTEC could contribute to algae's success.