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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Green Energy: Global Policy andIssues Affecting the Development ofAlgal Aquaculture for Biofuel

  • Author(s): Bettilyon, Megan
  • et al.

As the global population continues to grow, the corresponding increase of demands upon natural resources will present special challenges. Problems involving the scarcity of fresh water and arable land, additional requirements for energy, and accumulating pollution may all reach critical tipping points in the near future. In anticipation of such crises, governments worldwide are regularly convening to discuss possible strategies intended to mitigate these issues. High on the list of considered solutions is the enactment of biofuel development policies. To gain a broad perspective on the benefits and risks any biofuel policy/program faces, I examine the approaches taken to date by the US Government and the European Commission - the two prominent regulating bodies now involved in biofuels. Careful dissection of the two different approaches taken by these parties, with their successes and failures, reveals lessons broadly applicable to all biofuels and sustainability policy in general. U.S. and European policy trends have increasingly encouraged renewable fuel use in recent years. Many of these mandates and incentives have favored corn-based ethanol because of its existing market presence, infrastructure, and political influence. However, corn-based ethanol does not align with many of the social objectives that motivate renewable fuels policy. Algal biofuels are better united with these objectives along several dimensions, but economics continue to pose obstacles for large-scale production. This paper evaluates the role for algal biofuel in the context of modern policy and is intended to be a resource for policy makers, investors, and researchers interested in evaluating the political landscape associated with renewable energy for transportation and the potential for algal biofuel as a preferred feedstock.

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