Aug 17 2010
In the world of biofuels, 2010 is officially the year of the autotrophic organism as dozens of companies and academic laboratories race to transform algae into a source of viable green energy, according to Algae Biofuels Production Technologies Worldwide by leading industrial market research firm SBI Energy.
The endgame of these research efforts -- which include genetic engineering and other biological techniques that create chemically induced mutations to improve how algae functions -- is to domesticate algae, to make it a crop highly efficient at converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into lipids and oils that can be sent to a refinery and made into replacements for conventional gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethanol, as well as various other chemicals.
"Algae can be cultivated and harvested in support of a wide array of biofuel products. In addition, algae biofuels systems hold promise to enable rapid production of high quality, high throughput biofuels systems in support of carbon emissions reductions targets, and in support of clean fuel production," says Robert Eckard, SBI Energy analyst and author of the report. "The U.S. Department of Energy's recent $24 million commitment to a trio of research groups determined to bring algae biofuels to market indicates just how much potential this industry holds."
At its current stage, the algae biofuels industry is primarily pursuing pilot and demonstration-scale algae cultivation projects and algae biofuels production facility projects. Due in part to the wide array of production technologies available, pilot projects are expected to continue through 2015 following the completion of demonstration-scale and commercial-scale projects that will result from varying stages of business activities between algae biofuels companies. Most announced development is currently within the U.S., although smaller peripheral markets in the European Union and Asia are expected to emerge due to collaborations with the U.S. algae biofuels industry or as a result of research programs beginning in 2010-2012. The U.S. is forecast to represent over 82% of the global market for open pond algae cultivation systems from 2010-2015, while the EU and Asian markets are respectively expected to claim 11% and 7%.
The major factors for algae biofuels technology market growth include trends in the prices and commodity markets for fossil fuels, regulatory support and incentives available to the algae biofuels industry for industry growth, growing investment in the algae biofuels industry, and contemporary industry activity focused on reducing the operational and capital costs associated with algae biofuels production. The high market growth projected for algae cultivation systems is based upon the growing volume of pilot, demonstration-scale, and emergent commercial-scale projects currently planned by companies within the algae biofuels industry. More than a dozen projects with over $25 million in algae cultivation system costs are projected through 2015.
Algae Biofuels Production Technologies Worldwide distinguishes fact from hype by examining the market for algae biofuels production technologies according to subsets of production technologies: cultivation technologies, harvesting and extraction technologies, and algae biofuels production facilities. The report estimates current total market value and forecasts future growth for algae biofuels technologies between 2010 and 2015; provides an overview of industry trends and opportunities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMS) and suppliers to the industry; and investigates the effects of energy market trends on the development and activity of the algae biofuels industry.