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2009 June 16

Industrial-scale bioenergy from algae ‘a reasonable possibility’

David Landes
Algae may someday be a source of bioenergy on an industrial scale, but it remains difficult to say exactly when that may happen, according to the head of the newly launched European Algae Biomass Association (EABA).

“[T]he reality of the thing is that there is still fundamental research [to do] on this,” EABA executive director Raffaello Garofalo told the Guardian newspaper.

“There is a reasonable perspective to achieve [industrial scale production]. But where there is research it means there are still challenges and problems that need solutions to be found.”

Garofalo’s comments came following the official launch of the EABA on June 10th in Florence, Italy.

While some members of the EABA admitted that industrial production wouldn’t occur in the short or medium term, Garofalo remains confident of algae’s long-term potential as a source of bioenergy.

However, he emphasized the importance of managing expectations.

“One of the risks of algae business is the risk of over-enthusiastic announcements,” he told the newspaper.

“The potential is enormous but the challenges remain very important too.”

Garofalo added he isn’t worried about lower oil prices slowing the pace of research on algae-made biofuels, which has been underway in earnest for three to five years.

“Algae have a potential to provide answers in this respect: There is no competition food versus energy. There is no impact on land use and algae absorb CO2 as they grow,” he said.

Read the full article here.