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.