Monday, August 25, 2008

Can This Be Right?

This article from India suggests that just 1% of total land area of India devoted to algal farming could provide for all of India's liquid fuel needs. Of course, one algal biodiesel company in the US claims that just 10% of New Mexico's land area could supply the US with liquid fuel. But those yield numbers are wildly exaggerated by a factor of 10, if not 100. The Indian experts claim that 10,000 litres of biodiesel can be produced per acre. That sounds fairly realistic, once processes are scaled up--which may take ten years.
Experts say that algae farming in less than 1 per cent of India’s total land can make the country self-sufficient in liquid fuel. Algae yield from one acre of wasteland can be 10 times more than jatropha and by a conservative estimate over 10,000 litres of oil can be produced from one acre of waste/degraded land, they add.

And not just this, algae farming for biofuels can also provide a solution to the food versus fuel debate. As algae do not need agriculture land, it can be grown using non-potable or sea water.

“Algae farming for oil can be great opportunity for India, its farmers and industry. Algae is fast emerging as the most efficient source of feedstock for biodiesel industry,” says CEO of the Growdiesel Climate Care Council Atul Saxena.....While long-term impact of biodiesel on Indian economy is clear, the question is what feedstock for biodiesel can be sustainable and profitable in the long term.

“As sustainable alternatives are sought in a bid to enhance energy security as well as reduce carbon emissions, the focus of researchers has shifted to next generation biodiesel — those not made from food crops such as soya or palm. It has been conclusively established that, in terms of per hectare oil yield, algae could be the most efficient source of feedstock for biodiesel industry,” explains Saxena. While jatropha takes two-three years for commercial yield, algae starts yielding from two-three days and thereafter the algae oil can be harvested everyday. Algae oil can be suitably converted to biodiesel and left over deoiled cake serves as an excellent source of high value protein to supplement the cattle feed.

.....The summit will focus on producing next generation biofuels using algae as the main feedstock. The main objective is to disseminate information regarding recent research and development activities in the field of Algae, mass production systems, photobioreactor technologies and other important areas of algae biofuel industry. _Source
Sadly, this is all we can expect from academics, think tanks, and governmental/intergovernmental bureaucrats. Form a committee to study an issue and submit a report to another committee, write a paper whose primary recommendation is that a follow-up paper be funded... and so on. Hold a conference when all else fails. That way the various bureaucrats, functionaries, and academics can argue over whose paper-trail gravy trains should receive the lion's share of future financing.

No. If you want something done, you must give the creative people of the planet--the entrepreneurs, inventors, working engineers, etc--incentives to unleash their creativity on the problem. Modern governments tax and regulate enterprise so highly to fund and field massive bureaucracies, that incentives are often slanted toward the career bureaucrat and quasi civil servant, at the expense of the makers and doers.

Society gets the type of people it sets the table for. In other words, if you vote for people who are bound to grow government ever larger--and tax enterprise ever more--then blame yourself for being the fuckup you clearly are. Because if the society you are creating is ever able to solve any important problem, it will be in spite of what you do, not because of it.



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