The Pickens Plan to substantially reduce dependence on foreign oil is still alive and well and moving through the political motions this week:
As part of the “alternative” energy solution Algae is still an exciting up and comer. Remarkably today algae biofuels still aren't eligible for tax breaks and subsidies going to other biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol. Algae is a brilliant idea whose time has come despite all the status-quo bias and nay-sayers. Algae is also the hands down winner in terms of relative amounts of land needed to generate enough supply for US use.
The solution to breaking the dependence on oil is not one thing; it is many bright ideas. The good news is the ideas are out there and growing every day. Now they just need more political will and investment capital to get them on stream sooner rather than later. The advantages are indisputable:
[Algae producers] are targeting annual output of 15,000 gallons per acre.
By comparison, corn-based ethanol produces about 400 gallons of fuel per acre, its cellulosic ethanol counterpart up to 800 gallons per acre and soybean biodiesel a mere 40 gallons per acre, according to research from Sandia National Laboratories cited in Greener Dawn's report.
“This is several orders of magnitude larger than anything being used today for either ethanol or biodiesel,” says George Santana of Greener Dawn.
Algae's growth cycle is much shorter than that of corn, soy or other biofuel sources, and like cellulosic ethanol that uses grasses and agricultural waste, it also doesn't compete in the agrifood market for its feedstock. See: Algae could grow into a biofuels leader.
Algae also requires less water—for growth and for processing—and less handling by heavy, fossil-fuel-burning equipment in being harvested and processed.
Energy that doesn’t spend all our fresh water getting it? —awesome.