Growing algae for biofuels is an energy-intensive process that can generate more greenhouse gases than the process sequesters, according to a new study.
Examining the life cycle of algal biofuels, researchers from the University of Virginia found that the process emits high levels of greenhouse gases because algal production requires using large amounts of fertilizer.
Those fertilizers often come from petroleum-based sources, and fertilizers also emit nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, according to the study. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, said that while biofuel production from crops such as corn, canola, and switchgrass can result in a net carbon dioxide uptake, that is not yet the case with algal biofuels.
The paper said that one promising way to overcome the environmental impact of using fertilizers to grow algal biofuels is to produce them with effluent from sewage treatment plants. Proponents of algal biofuels also said it is too early to make firm conclusions about the environmental impact of the technology because it is still in its infancy.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.
photo: Proyecto Agua
Any fuel that contains carbon will generate carbon dioxide, there is no way from getting around this!!! If you try to dispose of the CO2 it will take some energy to do so. It is like saying that my girlfriend is just a little bit pregnant!!
If the large sums that are being spent on biofuel development are directed to really “Clean” energy projects we would be well on our way to stopping global warming!!
The Sun and radioactive decay in the bowels of the earth are the primary sources of energy.
Therefore it is obvious that we should be developing solar and geothermal power along with wind and hydro power developments that are secondary sources of clean power.
Of course we must take into consideration the footprints and benefits of each project:
Solar power developments can be designed to be quite inobtrusive by using rooftops and recent developments indicated much lower costs;
Geothermal power requires a lot of risk capital for deveelopment but the footprint is the smallest of all clean power systems and it is the only certain “clean base load power system” because once it is developed it will continue to generate power 24 hours per day 7 days per week at zero cost for the heat drawn from the magma (until some politician finds a way to tax it!!).
Wind power systems are rapidly developing and the future for vertical axis turbines with larger generators and fewer and higher towers is bright;
Hydro power developments using “run of river” and “tidal” power systems also have a very bright future especially as “clean base load power” systems..
Let us stop all governments in subsidising any system that creates CO2; there are much better ways to protect our planet!!
There is no excuse for authorising the construction of just one more “thermal power plant” anywhere in the world!! We may be addicts but by going “cold turkey” and with a little abstinence in power consumption now we can make my planet and yours a better place to live in!!
Paul V. Preminger
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