A verbal duel between President Obama and Newt Gingrich on the future U.S. energy policy has touched algae, described by Obama as a “plant-like substance” that can replace up to 17% of the import oil. Newt Gingrich has been quick in labelling this notion as “weird”. What do experts say?
While corn and sugarcane will remain the staple feedstock of the ethanol production, the future belongs to cellulosic and algae-sourced ethanol. The same goes for biodiesel – cellulosic and algae-sourced biodiesel will gradually find their way to the liquid fuel infrastructure. These are conclusions of a recently released market report Global Biofuel Production Forecast 2015-2020. The U.S. has a significant technological advantage in development, manufacture and infrastructure of advanced algae-sourced and cellulosic biofuels, says the report.
Debates between “fossil” and “green” camps on role and significance of biofuels in the U.S. energy policy often overlook two important factors:
- Geopolitical and economical leverage of biofuels far exceeds their direct impact, even at a relatively small rate of substitution;
- Technology and economy of biofuel production are improving very fast.
Just a decade ago, it was barely feasible to develop biofuel economy with oil price below $30 per barrel. In a decade the world has already reached the level of biofuel production comparable with oil production in 1930 – 1950. Even the next five years may prove crucial to crack the absolute hold of petroleum over the world economy.