The Real Problem with Obama's Algae Quote
President Obama has been getting some flak from the right for suggesting using algae to replace oil:
"Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17% of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America," Obama said.
In his defense, a reasonably scientific study did claim just that: National Microalgae Biofuel Production Potential and Resource Demand, by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
However, there are a few leetle problems with it, which PNNL themselves pointed out:
- It would take acreage equivalent to the area of South Carolina to generate that much oil
- It takes 350 gallons of water for every one gallon of oil you produce
- Meeting that water requirement would take 25% of our irrigation capacity
- It takes even more water than that unless you use lakefront and oceanfront real estate
This was a very preliminary "what-if" type study that happened to use a better geographic database than earlier studies. There's a long way to go before we can even start thinking about getting serious about significant oil from algae.
But this President doesn't concern himself with those details – if it sounds good, why, that's the plan.
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