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John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Say Algae Won't Save World
The Business Inisder ^ | Mar. 6, 2009 | Jay Yarow

Posted on 03/08/2009 3:16:23 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Speaking at the ECO:nonomics conference yesterday, John Doerr, Vinod Khosla, and Bryant Tongall said they're not interested in backing any companies working on algae biofuels.

On the face of it, that makes sense. It's pond scum. However, algae was already used twice this year to fuel test flights of commercial planes. It was mixed with jatropha seed oil. But those test flights aren't enough to get major venture capitalists interested, even though Khosla said he looked at more than 100 algae biofuel companies.

Environmental Capital: For Mr. Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, the problem is algae itself. To get better economics, you need to grow the stuff in cheap, open-air ponds, not in fancy bioreactors. But that is rough on algae and limits yields. Mr. Tong, of Nth power, says both the economics and the timeline of algae biofuels are still ugly at this point.

Mr. Khosla adores liquid alternative fuels, like ethanol. He told a big biofuels summit last October that he “believe[s] in the potential of algae.” But he hasn’t invested in algae so far because it fails his cardinal rule: economics. Algae has to be cost-competitive without subsidies and with oil between $45 and $50 a barrel, he said tonight.

Algae garned its fair share of venture money last year according this Portfolio article, but like many alternative fuels, it needs to be able to prove it can be done at scale. According to a 2004 University of New Hampshire study we'd need a pond the size of South Carolina to create enough algae to satisfy our current fuel demands. And doing that would involve all sorts of new infrastructure headaches.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous; Science
KEYWORDS: algae; alternativefuel; venturecapital
I saw Vinod Khosla on the Top Ten Tech Trends panel last year, and he seemed pro-algae. Definitley pro-biofuels.
1 posted on 03/08/2009 3:16:24 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
"I saw Vinod Khosla on the Top Ten Tech Trends panel last year, and he seemed pro-algae. Definitley pro-biofuels. "

Algea, sugar cane, corn or whatever won't matter a hill of beans if the economy continues to plummet. Although oil prices have leveled off a bit the last month, even gaining a little, if the big D hits, we could easily see oil prices back to the mid twenty's or even a less; not giving much incentive to invest in alternative's to oil.

2 posted on 03/08/2009 3:24:51 PM PDT by Big_Monkey
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To: nickcarraway

Doerr is no more correct in his assertions here than he was when the Segway was going to change how cities are designed. Algae has tremendous potential as a biofuel feedstock due to it’s extremely high oil content and non-competition with food. He’s correct in that the challenge is in the production process, however R&D has only begun into optimizing the process of producing algae on a large economical commercial scale.

His comments are as asinine as those of Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM when he said in 1943 there was a world market for “maybe five computers”.


3 posted on 03/08/2009 3:28:42 PM PDT by bigbob (-)
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To: bigbob

I was thinking that algae was being discredited due to the fact that technically it holds the most promise in the biofuel field (a bit of “political logic” that always seems to override reality - just as AGW is “political logic”. Where’s the vested interest?)
Just look at the potential yield versus soybean based biodiesel, algae is ahead with 50x per acre. What I would like to know about the algae process is if it can be fed a waste stream.


4 posted on 03/08/2009 3:56:33 PM PDT by Fred Hayek (Leftism is a mental disorder.)
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To: Fred Hayek

“What I would like to know about the algae process is if it can be fed a waste stream.”

Don’t see why not, the nutrients from certain *ahem* “waste streams” are blamed for algae problems in the lakes.


5 posted on 03/08/2009 4:14:28 PM PDT by Ellendra (Can't starve us out, and you can't make us run...Country folks CAN survive!!! -Hank Jr.)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; george76; ...
John Doerr, Vinod Khosla, and Bryant Tongall said they're not interested in backing any companies working on algae biofuels.

6 posted on 03/08/2009 4:33:05 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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The Bum Rap on Biofuels
American Thinker | 5-13-08 | Herbert Meyer
Posted on 05/14/2008 3:59:06 AM PDT by Renfield
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2015711/posts

Campaign to vilify ethanol revealed
ethanol producer Magazine | May 16, 2008 | By Kris Bevill
Posted on 05/17/2008 9:22:13 AM PDT by Kevin J waldroup
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2017389/posts


7 posted on 03/08/2009 4:33:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: nickcarraway

Algae right now holds more promise than any biofuel I can see. Moreso than ethanol, not because of the food v. fuel problem, but because of it’s chemical properties present logistical problems that require the subsidy to blenders. There needs to be plenty of tweaks to algae but I think many of the technological and cost issues can be overcome.


8 posted on 03/08/2009 5:12:21 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (No prisoners. No mercy. 2010 awaits.....)
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