Algae-based biofuels aren’t all they’re cracked up to be? Not so fast, say those in the — of course — algae-based biofuel industry.
A recent study from the University of Virginia that found algae’s environmental footprint is higher than other energy crops has riled more than a few proponents of algae-based fuel. And one of the things industry players are pointing out is that all algae operations aren’t created equal.
In fact, one algae biofuel firm actually welcomes the Virginia study’s findings. Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of the Los Angeles-based OriginOil, says the research “supported our finding that algae cultivated in a standalone agricultural environment cannot be viable.”
Other algae biofuel companies have already recognised that fact, according to Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algal Biomass Organisation. She told DomesticFuel that the Virginia study doesn’t apply to cutting-edge algae companies that have moved beyond first-generation-type pond systems. She also faulted the study’s assumption that an algae facility wouldn’t be located near a source of carbon dioxide pollution (which algae consume), and also questioned its water calculations.
Meanwhile, OriginOil is working to refine what its execs already call “a breakthrough technology to transform algae … into a true competitor with petroleum.” The company announced today that it is partnering with a London-based strategy consulting firm, StrategicFit, to increase the “robustness” of OriginOil’s “Algae Productivity Model.”
“We have carefully explored the algae space and believe that there is real promise, but there can also be hype,” said Duncan John, StrategicFit’s co-founder and partner. “Fact needs to be separated from fiction in order for the sector to build its credibility with investors.”