By Gary Thomas
According to IEEE members, algae are a potential sustainable energy source to address ever-increasing global energy demands. Moreover, they are also involved in new developments in well-established technologies such as smart grid and wind power to deliver reliable and eco-friendly energy worldwide.
Algae-based bio-fuels are sustainable alternative source for producing crude oil, aviation gases and jet fuel. Algae usage is beneficial thanks to its high growth rate. IEEE Senior Member, William Kassebaum, who is also Chief Executive Officer at Algaeon, informed that 6,000-10,000 gallons of light sweet crude oil can be produced from an acre of algae per year compared to the annual production of 300 gallons of ethanol from one acre of corn. Moreover, algae can produce protein 200-fold more densely when compared to soybeans. According to Kassebaum, more capital needs to be invested to increase algae usage for bio-fuel production.
IEEE Senior Member, Peter Tavner, who is also President of the European Academy of Wind Energy, informed that the wind mills are a promising non-carbon energy source because the cost of onshore wind energy production is declining towards that of fossil-fired plants. Over the past decade, the output capacity of individual wind turbines has been increased from 500 kW to over 5 MW without a significant increment in cost. These higher capacity units make feasible the development of wind farms all over the world. Increased availability of resources and economies of scale offset the high cost related to installation and main grid connection that limit such developments.
Smart grids integrate communication and information technologies to the power system engineering solutions, thus providing remarkable environmental benefits in the generation, transmission, and consumption of energy. The current power grid is advancing rapidly, with focus on flexibility in consumption. According to IEEE Senior Member, Cyro Boccuzzi, who is Executive Vice President at Brazil-based Enersul, smart grids help meeting immediate demand by allowing the installation of several smaller and localized energy generators.