Report: Algae biofuels more hype than substance

Report: Algae biofuels more hype than substance

15th March 2017 – Vermont, U.S. – Biofuelwatch campaigners today released a report arguing that the failure of a prominent algae biofuels venture should be viewed as a canary in the coal mine for investors in the algae biotechnology field. [1]

“Algenol: Case Study of an Unsuccessful Algal Biofuels Venture” details the commercial failure of a Florida-based company which has received between $35-50 million in public money, in addition to hundreds of millions in private sector investment. Despite eleven years of operation and considerable logistical and financial support from the US Department of Energy, Algenol continues to face significant economic and technological hurdles to commercialization.

“Algenol could be a stand-in for any other algae biofuel company – running on fresh investment and overblown hype, while utterly failing to deliver a biofuel product to the market,” said Dr. Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch. “When you add the serious potential risk of Algenol’s genetically engineered algae being released into the environment, it becomes clear that this industry is not only risking investors’ money, but also our human and ecosystem health.”

The Algenol report is part of a series of investigations into the emerging field of “advanced biofuels” derived from biomass, agricultural residues, waste, and algae. Many of these fuels are facing serious technological and financial hurdles to commercialization, in addition to growing evidence that they could have social and ecological impacts on par with so-called “first generation” biofuels derived from sugars and vegetable oils.

“The gravity of the climate crisis demands that we address the root causes of the problem, and put our public resources towards genuinely renewable, low-carbon energy solutions,” said Biofuelwatch researcher and lead author Keith Brunner. “Algae biofuels are just another green gimmick and a distraction from the real task of challenging corporate power and transforming our institutions to address poverty and achieve sustainability for current and future generations.”

CONTACT:

Keith Brunner, +1.802.363.9615 or keith.biofuelwatch@yahoo.com

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. Find the report here: biofuelwatch.org.uk/2017/algenol-report/

 

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