No joke: Irish consider seaweed biofuel
by David Masters
July 24, 2008
Why did the lobster blush? Because the seaweed.
The Irish sense of humour might be more advanced than the English – and probably the rest of Europe – but in terms of biofuel and renewable energy production, Ireland lags far behind the rest of the continent.
Ireland is one of the most energy dependent countries in Europe, having to import over 90% of its energy to make ends meet. It is also surrounded by the sea.
Which is perhaps why the potential of seaweed as a biofuel has sparked the imagination of Irish energy companies.
Dr Stefan Kraan, manager of the Irish Seaweed centre in Galway, says there has been a sudden ‘frenzy of interest’ in using seaweed as a biofuel.
Ireland’s Communications Minister Eamon Ryan has also said that seaweed biofuels are now being taken seriously as a ‘real runner’.
At the moment, technological barriers prevent seaweed being used as a biofuel, with crops such as sugarcane, peanuts and palm oil preferred.
However, with biofuel production responsible for up to 75% of the recent rise in food prices, investing in seaweed research is now being considered as a serious option.
Seaweed is an energy rich, sustainable resource that does not use up agricultural land. Ireland already harvests 16,000 tonnes of seaweed every year for use in cosmetics and food.
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