$600 million just the start for algae fuel

July 21, 2009 at 12:42 PM

IRVING, Texas, July 21 (UPI) -- Large-scale production of algae-based biofuels may require substantial investments beyond initial targets, Exxon Mobil spokesmen say.

Exxon Mobil last week announced it had teamed up with Synthetic Genomics on a $600 million partnership to develop algae for the use in biofuels. Exxon Mobil said algae-based biofuels could generate as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year, eclipsing palm tree, corn and sugar cane alternatives.

However, in a statement to the Platts news service Exxon Mobil said the $600 million target was just a beginning.

"If the research and development targets are met, the company expects to spend more than the $600 million announced," a spokesman said.

The energy giant says algae provides the best option for biofuels because of its potential as a large-scale developmental alternative to conventional fuels for vehicles.

The company also denies it had moved so aggressively into alternative energy as a result of stern political pressure.

"We are not interested in green-washing our credentials and we are certainly not opposed to alternative renewable forms of energy," the company said.

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