Stanford University

Energy Seminar: Mark Huntley: Reversing Climate Change within a Generation – The Pivotal Role of Algae

Monday, May 6, 2019 4:30 PM
NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center
More Info:
Energy Seminar: Mark Huntley: Reversing Climate Change within a Generation – Th…
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni/Friends
Precourt Institute for Energy

Our pursuit of a better life, enabled by the discovery of fire, agriculture, and fossil fuels, gave us modern civilization. It also gave us climate change. We can reverse climate change and improve the quality of life on earth using proven technologies and practices – all of which can be brought to scale by 2040 – that reduce CO2 emissions to zero and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

All demand for electricity in 2040 can be satisfied by renewables. Renewable electricity is already cheaper and more energy efficient than fossil fuels – that’s why it’s winning in the marketplace. By 2030, most energy storage systems will deliver energy at $0.05-$0.10/kWh, which is competitive with fossil fuels. That solves the grid continuity problem. Emissions fall to near zero.

By 2040 microalgae could provide all the biofuels we need – plus all the animal feed protein, and all of the world’s vegetable oil. Microalgae are grown on barren land. Without freshwater. No herbicides, no pesticides, no agricultural wastewater. No deforestation required. We would need just 7% the Sahara Desert. We need liquid transport fuels for aircraft, ships and trucks. This challenge is not solved by conventional bioenergy crops. The deforestation needed to make cropland for biofuels will release much more CO2 than fossil fuels. Instead, by using microalgae, the 2.8 million km2 of cropland now used to produce biofuels, animal feed and vegetable oil - 18% of total cropland - becomes reforested. The reforestation will remove >8 billion tonnes (GT) CO2 per year.

Speaker Biography:

Mark Huntley is Visiting Scholar, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University since 2011; he served on the faculty at Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Manoa (1998-2011) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD (1982-1998).

Mark has dedicated his career to understanding and reversing climate change. He was Chief Science Officer of Cellana BV (2007-2011), a $200 million algae biofuels joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell. He served as Principal Investigator of the Cornell Marine Microalgae Biofuels Consortium (2009-2015) and is now Co-PI of the Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium, MAGIC (2015-). He served on the executive committee of GLOBEC, the only component of the IGBP to study the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems (1992-2002). He has led four Antarctic research expeditions (1986-1992). He has published >80 peer reviewed articles and several patents.

Read more about his current projects at and more about Mark at

Recommended Reading:

Drawdown: the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, Paul Hawken (Ed.), Penguin (2017)

Marine microalgae: Climate, energy and food security from the sea, Greene et al., Oceanography 29(4) (2016)

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