At the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa, Craig Venter said that alternative fuels, like algal-derived biofuels, won't take off unless there are US government regulations supporting such fuels, the North County Times reports.
"So there's no way economically for a new fuel made out of renewables to ever be able to compete with something an oil company can do, without sharp federal regulations and a sharp carbon policy that says, you can’t keep just taking carbon out of the ground, burning it and putting it in the atmosphere," Venter said at the meeting. "Until we do that, there is no biofuel industry." Synthetic Genomics, a company founded by Venter, has partnered with oil companies to develop biofuels.
The North County Times notes that SG Biofuels, which is working with Life Technologies, says it has had some luck in developing the jatropha plant as a source of affordable fuel.
Additionally, Severin Borenstein from the University of California, Berkeley's Energy Institute tells the North County Times that government regulations may not help biofuels. “It may work for the United States, and even that seems a political stretch, but it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t work in the developing world,” he says. “The idea that the developing world is going to forgo cheap gasoline to use much more expensive biofuels, I think is fairly implausible for the near term.”