Daniel Kammen: ‘Energy from algae is a wildcard’
Daniel Kammen: From our analysis, probably the most interesting feature of algae
is that it's a wildcard. Since algae might be a big player, but right now, it'll take some breakthroughs for us to see that.
You are listening to Daniel Kammen. He is director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley and energy and policy advisor to the Obama administration. Dr. Kammen spoke to EarthSky about the potential of algae to meet future energy needs.
Daniel Kammen: A variety of algae, actually the common pond scum to various plants, they produce different oils in their cell walls. And there can be large amounts of it. What we're talking about is harvesting those materials that look very similar to the kinds of biodiesels we produce right now.
Kammen said oils from fast-growing algae could either be converted into liquid fuel that could run your car, or into more efficient hydrogen
fuel. The idea is promising, he said, but the key to success is scaling up the technology.
Daniel Kammen: We can do it in the laboratory, in a Petri dish, no problem right now. Question is, can we do it at scale? And no one really knows.
Kammen added that algae is significantly behind other renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, in terms of development.
Daniel Kammen: Even if algae
performs at its theoretical maximum, it may not be a big enough deal soon enough.