The Department of Energy's Biomass Program has been misguided for over 50 years – at the expense of the taxpayer. Instead of recognizing that the rooms full of algae technologies would have no value unless they could scale up for commercial production, they funded more and more research projects that made the technologies they just paid for obsolete!
Grant recipients don’t like the National Algae Association – we expect results, not excuses. When you read about the third or fourth tranche of financing from the same group of investors, it usually means that they’ve listened to all the hype and now they’re too heavily invested, financially and morally, to allow the borrower to seek bankruptcy protection.
We don’t need to be paying lobbyists for these efforts – the rules are in place and need to be followed, not changed before they’re implemented because ‘it’s too hard’ to follow them. And government funds should not be used to finance projects that they do not understand and/or do not follow their own existing rules and regulations.
In these turbulent economic times and after over 50 years of algae research, why are so many researchers from the same universities, many of the same NREL and DOE Biomass employees, attending algae conferences using federal grant monies? What are the results? The taxpayer continues to hear that algae production is too expensive, cannot be done and we are years away from commercialization. If these funds were spent on deployment and not hotels, we would be much further along by now!
NAA is proud of its efforts in promoting collaboration between the research community and the commercial algae production industry. Without any grant money from the government, NAA has been successful in promoting collaboration between researchers and producers, building commercial-scale algae production systems and testing them in a commercial environment. Many people want to get into commercial algae production but cannot afford the time or expense to attend algae conferences, so NAA will be announcing a new online commercial algae production certification course at our next event. This course will keep everyone up to date on commercial algae production methods and increase their skill set.
The algae technologies that are sitting on shelves at universities, NREL and the DOE will never have any value. They must be proven in a commercial environment. We need a Manhattan-like algae project bringing the researchers, government, industry and investment together to get the job done. NAA is changing the conversation from all research to commercialization and deployment. In order to get off of foreign oil, become energy independent and create new jobs – “we all need to be working together”. NAA has the platform to make this happen! Let's put all the egos aside and finally get the job done!