Mary Rosenthal, Executive Director, Algal Biomass Organization
Today, the RAND Corporation published a study and accompanying press release calling into question the effectiveness of renewable fuels for military use.
The report can be found here: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2011/RAND_MG969.pdf
A copy of the press release can be found here: http://www.rand.org/news/press/2011/01/25.html
It is our understanding that researchers at RAND did not reach out to any of the leading algae companies. Given that most of the cutting edge algae-fuels research is taking place today in the private sector where companies rightly protect their intellectual property, and given that the industry has made significant progress in the past three years, we believe the report is likely based on outdated information. In our opinion, basing sweeping policy recommendations on such data is misguided if not reckless.
The positioning of the entire US algae industry as a “research topic” is patently false. We have more than 100 companies, academic institutions and national laboratories working to develop the algae-to-fuels industry. Algae-derived fuels have already been tested and/or used in motor vehicles and commercial aircraft, and last fall’s successful test of a Navy Riverine Command boat showed that algae fuels are ready for use. It is unclear to us whether or not any actual “green” CTL fuels have been produced or tested.
We believe algae commercialization is far closer than RAND suggests. A 2010 report by Greentech Media Research projected annual US production of 6 billion gallons of algae fuel by 2022. On the contrary, the RAND report calls the potential for commercial production of CTL fuels over the next decade “very limited.”
We will continue to work on behalf of the US algae industry to inform policymakers of the true potential of algae-based fuels as a long term, viable source of renewable fuels for the military.