This is the third part of a three-part interview with Mike Mendez, vice-president of technology at Sapphire Energy. Here Mendez talks about Sapphire's future and the future of the algae-fuel industry.
ROBERT GLUCK: Where do you see Sapphire Energy in five years?
MIKE MENDEZ: In five years we will be producing one million gallons per year of green crude at our New Mexico Integrated Algal Bio-Refinery. In 10 years, if the financial markets return to normal, we expect that we will be approaching millions of gallons. In 20 years, we hope to be making a measurable impact on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
RG: Where do you see the algae-fuel industry going in the future?
MM: It depends on what we do starting today. On the electricity side we know how to generate electricity from alternative sources, and many technology companies are focusing on substitutes for conventional electricity generation. We will see more natural gas displace coal, especially with the recent advances in technologies to recover shale gas. I believe we will also see growth in wind and solar, to further offset conventional coal use.
Liquid transportation fuels are very different, we do not have technology ready to scale, and we argue it is our nation's and world's greatest challenge. Whatever your reason -- energy security or climate change -- our nation needs to develop technology that give us hundreds of millions of gallons petroleum replacements soon.
The nation has yet to make a firm commitment to develop viable alternatives to the one product we will actually run out of in our children’s lifetime: petroleum. To have a chance at offsetting the inevitable declines, in 2020 our industry needs to have a set of solutions in place that are technically solved, ready to scale.
The replacement of petroleum is a very tall order: it’s necessary for our nation’s economic recovery, our security and environment. It’s very strategic, forward thinking and needs to be our government’s priority.
RG: What would you like to highlight that I haven't asked about?
MM: We know that we are running out of oil, and we know that by 2020 the world energy market will increase by 40%. It’s what we call the inflection point. While we need to explore all options, we need to focus on liquid transportation fuels.
It’s very evident from the recent events in the gulf that the feats to find new oil are becoming more and more heroic. Our search for oil is not getting easier and the risks will only increase.. So, we must – while we still have fossil crude available – figure out the best alternatives. We don’t want to be in a situation where we’re fighting over the last drops of oil because we didn’t take the time or invest the resources to find a solution today
You can read the first parts of my interview with Mike Mendez here:
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