If you ever wondered what happened to the algae fuel work between Synthetic Genomics and Exxon — it was scaled back and now is focused on long term research instead of commercialization.
2013 is a year where algae fuel makers are finally starting to try to reach scale where they can compete with oil. Will they make it?
Genomics guru Craig Venter and his startup Synthetic Genomics might be hitting some hurdles with their partnership with Exxon, but on Monday the company announced that it will create a joint venture with Mexican investing group Plenus to use genomics to create more sustainable crop production.
Biofuels made from algae that will be able to scale, and compete with oil, will have to be synthesized and will not come from nature, says genomics scientist and entrepreneur Craig Venter. That notion could put a damper on Venter’s current deal with oil giant Exxon.
Grab your biofuel startups fast, Lux Research says — the field of contenders with game-changing technologies for turning non-food feedstocks into useful hydrocarbons is getting sparser by the minute. The report sees Big Oil and consumer products conglomerates quickly winnowing the field of the best technologies.
Joule Unlimited, a startup that promises to genetically engineer an organism that eats CO2 and produces a drop-in diesel fuel, has landed a patent on its “recombinant biosynthesis” technology.
Dutch oil giant Shell and Brazilian ethanol giant Cosan sealed the deal Wednesday on a $12 billion joint venture to turn sugarcane into pump-ready fuel. How will the massive partnership affect Codexis, Shell’s biocatalyst partner and recent entrant to the public markets?
The billion-dollar balance sheet of Exxon and the brain of genomics guru Craig Venter have led to one of algae fuel’s biggest market breakthroughs. Now Exxon and Venter’s Synthetic Genomics have opened their first greenhouse test facility.
GE Chief Calls for Swift, Certain Climate Policy: “What’s most important for the U.S. is that we go from Copenhagen, go into 2010, and have the courage to act on clean energy,” General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt told a conference on renewable energy at Clemson University today. “If we don’t get off our butts and move aggressively forward, the world is not going to wait for us.” — Associated Press
Exxon on Efficiency Trends: Oil giant ExxonMobil issued its annual long-term world energy outlook today, forecasting that efficiency gains will accelerate between 2005 and 2030 compared to historial trends, with energy-per-GDP falling at an average global rate of 1.5 per cent a year. — FT Energy Source
Divisive Draft Text Leaked at COP15: A draft text proposed by the Danish host government of the UN climate talks and leaked to the UK Guardian “sees everything coming under a single new deal, whereas an alternative text from developing countries wants an extension to the Kyoto Protocol.” Campaigners say the draft would disadvantage poorer nations. — BBC News
Trony Solar Sets Share Price for IPO This Week: Chinese amorphous silicon solar panel maker Trony Solar is expected to go public on the New York Stock Exchange this week, marking the second solar IPO in over a year. Trony has priced its shares at between $9 and $11. — Greentech Media
Paper Battery Put to the Test: “Ordinary office paper coated with an inky layer of carbon nanotubes or nanowires can make a lightweight, flexible and highly conductive battery or superconductor,” according to new research out of Stanford University. — Greenwire via NYT
Judging from the flurry of venture-capital deals, big oil company investments, and attention from politicians on startups creating biofuels from algae, it might seem like the world has fallen in love with the technology to power vehicles with pond scum. But after all of the algae euphoria this summer, we’ve started seeing a few signs of an algae fuel backlash, with several prominent investors publicly questioning the economics of algae fuel.
At the AlwaysOn’s GoingGreen conference, outspoken cleantech investor Vinod Khosla said his firm has aggressively been looking at algae technologies, but hasn’t found one viable plan after looking at “maybe two dozen.” “The economics of algae don’t seem to work,” he said.
(You can watch the video here by clicking on “Renewables at Scale.”)
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