The Real ‘Green’ Movement

Popular Science: ‘U.S. Government Invests $78 million in Algae Biofuels Research’

Scientists have been trying their best to turn algae into the biofuel of the 21st century, and now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to put some serious muscle behind all that research. That muscle translates into $78 million of federal funding split between two biofuel consortia, according to an announcement today by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The DOE’s edgy science lab ARPA-E has already doled out millions to companies large and small working on energy-related projects. But this represents a sizeable investment in a biofuel that scientists have long-considered the one with the greatest potential payoff.

I find myself a little conflicted on this one.

A big part of me believes that the $78 million investment should come from the private sector and from an interest in eventually profiting from algae-based biofuel, yet I can’t help but remember how President Obama’s so-called “stimulus” package contained $8 billion earmarked for Harry Reid and a Mag-Lev Train project, and wonder if the $78 million might be a better investment.

Another part of me is resistant to any efforts which have a negative cost-benefit tradeoff, not to mention that I just don’t trust that the “green” movement as a whole can make any fiscal sense at all.  Yet, at the same time, I’ve always been in favor of an all-of-the-above approach to achieving energy independence, and unlike sugarcane or corn-based biofuel, algae doesn’t require leveling rainforests or removing food from the food supply.

At the end of the day, though, we should err on the side of “the government should not,” and in the meantime remove any and all barriers to achieving true energy independence through oil drilling, oil shale extraction, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and tidal.  Let’s do it all.  Anything to become the dealer instead of the junkie.

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Comments

  1. Nicknack says:

    Any mandate that requires the public to use a good or service leads to unintended outcomes. While funding for reasearch is fine for the public good one need only look at the ethanol outcomes to have real life examples of good intentions gone bad.

  2. Alex Tenerife says:

    Remember when President Obama said ” Only Government” a few times. Referring to getting out of this financial mess. Well, they meant on everything. ” Only Government” can find us a better energy solutions, Can drive us to more financial debt, can make our kids future so bleak, Can kiss my behind and tax me for it. These progressives just wants to push their agenda. Damn the consequences, at least they have “good intentions”.

  3. Bill in Texas says:

    I agree that any mandates that require public funds generally get corrupted somewhere down the line. However, I wanted to bring to the forum the innovations that are making headway into the energy industry. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I look at many new innovations coming in the not so distance future.

    There is a company in Baytown, Texas that is making biocrude from algae and it is my understanding that Texas A & M has just completed a comprehensive verification of this process. The company’s claim is that they can use all types of bio waste to make this biocrude at a competive cost to petroleum crude. It looks very promising. Another company located in Mount Laurel, NJ has just received a patent for a microwave system to degrade tires into usable fuel products without polluting the atmosphere. They claim they can microwave many different materials into usable crudes in a relatively cost effective process such as gasifying coal, oil shale, oil drilling fluids, slurry, oil sands, tar and other natural resources. Then one has to look at the major advances in hot fusion. They are currently building a TOKAMAK in Europe that each unit could provide needed energy that we could use for home and industry. Its called the ITER Project. It is very expensive but they are very close to bringing cheap renewable energy to all. This could replace the nuclear energy plants across the globe. Although it is being built in Europe, many of the scientist and engineers working on the project are from America. (see http://www.iter.org)

    These are just a few innovations that are coming soon. To me that is very exciting. I’m not only excited about meeting our future energy needs, but I’m very proud that some of these innovations are done by pioneers from America and with American ingenuity and capital. If that doesn’t make you proud to be American, I certainly don’t know what will.

  4. Roses, WA says:

    This story about algae biofuels went around the email circuit years ago and makes me wonder if this investment by the Obama administration is due to pressure from the biofuels ecco warriors. The email included impressive sets with labs of algae being grown under lights (nah, the lights weren’t using any CO2 footprint, honest.) It reminded me of a typical scifi movie set…

    But you’re right, it’s only $78mil, cheap in comparison to those grants which are encouraging actual harm to humans.

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