Would You Want It In Your Backyard?
Despite overwhelming public support for legislative action on climate change and the need for technologies that have the potential to generate energy in a “clean” way, we as a nation still have the “not in my backyard” mentality. We may not like coal or love its slightly more hygienic brother, natural gas, but we do appreciate that gas and coal power plants are located away from urban areas, in industrial regions, or in neighborhoods with a high level of poverty. Wind turbines and solar panels, however, need to be more distributed and placed where the wind blows or the sun shines – as long as they are not in our backyards. Well, we can add another technology to that list: pond scum.
You read it right. That filthy green stuff that grows in ponds and lakes is actually a source of potential energy. As it turns out, algae are great sources of oil. With the right amount of genetic engineering, it could produce gasoline, diesel oil or jet fuel. Which means that that nice pond you pass by on your way to work (or perhaps the one that you built your house near) could be a “natural” gas production plant. It’s less harmful to the environment than traditional sources of fossil fuels because the algae pull CO2 out of the atmosphere as it grows. There are enough potential water sites in the country that, if they were filled to capacity with oil-producing algae, they could produce enough to cover the country’s oil needs for a month a year. That is a pretty sizeable deduction, but would you want an algae farm in your backyard?