The sustainable energy movement is full of surprises. Naturally occurring sources of power are always ready to emerge from the most unlikely global elements.
In this ongoing saga, the next great source of renewable power appears to be growing in the green scum one is likely to encounter at the beach or in a pond on the family farm. More specifically, algae could be the next big thing.
In June, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) announced that power from algae is the best candidate to help the world meet its ever-growing demand for sustainable power.
In its support for the green stuff, the IEEE has perhaps stepped away from its more recognizable role as a developer of technology standards. Still, by throwing its considerable weight behind topwater scum, the organization has made a statement that can’t be ignored.
The IEEE cites Department of Energy projections for a 53 percent increase in global energy use by 2035. That projection, the organization said, has sparked the need for innovation in sustainable energy, and power from algae could be just the thing to meet that need.
In making the case for algae, the IEEE compares the water-grown energy source to another well-known biofuel, corn, which is used to make ethanol. According to the IEEE, an acre of corn can be used to generate 300 gallons of ethanol per year, while an acre of algae can produce 6,000 to 10,000 gallons of light, sweet crude oil annually.
If that statistic isn’t a persuasive selling point for algae, the IEEE notes that it also has another potential benefit as a dense source of protein for both humans and animals.
Like all other nascent sources of green energy, the one thing keeping it from mass production and consumption is the availability of capital.