It’s been a long and challenging road, but algae biofuels are finally at the point where investors should take notice as technology advances and variety of strategic partnerships—from oil and gas to power utilities, agricultural processes and chemical plants--are replacing subsidies to eventually make the industry commercially viable on its own merits.
Algae produces some carbon dioxide when burned, but it takes the same carbon dioxide in to grow. So when algae farms grow massive quantities to be turned into biofuels, the end result is that they actually suck greenhouse gas out of the air. It also has other advantages over biofuels from corn or soybeans, in that it does not require soil or fresh water to grow. It also has the potential to produce more energy per hectare than any land crop.
Currently, high cost of capital and operations limit bio-based materials and chemicals to a few facilities located where corn and cane are plentiful and cheap. Algae can change that.
All that’s been missing is the necessary technology to harness mass production.
A recent study put out by the respected energy research firm SBI predicts a compound annual growth rate of 43.1% and a $1.6 billion market in 2015 for algae biofuels. That is double digit growth for the emerging industry, which is receiving a sizable development boost as strategic partnerships are gradually replacing the millions in loans from the US Department of Energy since 2009.