Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is Algae based bio fuel appropriate for developing nations?

There is no silver bullet that will solve our energy poverty problems in developing countries.  The cause of the energy poverty must be looked at case by case.  One emerging technology that has had many people excited for opportunity in developing countries is that of algae bio fuels.  It was thought that the warm growing temperatures and large areas of undeveloped land in the warmer regions could have provided the perfect solution to algae farming.  However, researchers from the UN University in Japan beg to differ.

Other bio fuels such as corn and palm have been criticized for taking up arable land and contributing to global climate change through C02 emissions associated with the production.  Algae on the other hand requires no land.  So what is the problem with the process?  For developing countries, the problem would be the technology.  According to the lead author of the study and researcher, Ademola Adenle, “As far as things look now, algae bio fuel production is not the best option for developing countries because they don’t have the capacity even to do the research,”

In other words, there are too many hoops to jump through that are required in the implementation of a technology such as this one.  The past involvement of countries which have prime growing regions for the algae has been mediocre at best.  The United States and Europe contributed 70% of all studies on algae bio fuel in that past 35 years, with African and South America producing only 2% each.  More legal framework and R&D are required in order to start this technology in these countries or else it will just be a sunk cost.

Alternatives to dirty energy sources are a must in the advancement of the developing world.  It would have been relieving to see an alternative energy source be implemented in many developing countries, as the prospect of economic and social development seemed so promising.  The technology is still young and some day there may be opportunity for these developing nations to adopt it.

To learn more about algae based bio fuel click here.

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