July 30, 2009
Regarding the interview ‘EABA: Promises and challenges of algae biofuels‘:
We have produced micro-algae for the last 40 years or so – commercially as a part of aquaculture production processes. As such, we probably have a better understanding of algae as economic crop for lipids – either as food or fuel – than most of the so-called “experts”.
Your article does a good job of explaining the most basic challenges of algae, but only up to a certain point. The part that you miss is that as a process, the first level of understanding has to be through an economic sensitivity analysis of the processes involved in producing algae. This allows the producer to attack the high-cost areas first – the ones that prevent economic feasibility.
Unfortunately, your article did not reference the ‘state of algae production economics’. Algae as a fuel source is far from an economic reality – by an order of magnitude. This is really so under-reported – both in Europe and most especially the US. Part of the reason of course is none of the developers will publish their current production cost levels of algae-based fuels – if they did, their investors would evaporate.
Even so, an accurate understanding of the economic hurdles in algae production should be everyone’s first priority, both from a risk assessment standpoint investment-wise, and from a prioritisation standpoint R&D-wise.
I would hope your future articles would stress economic feasibility challenges more in the future.
Durwood M. DuggerAndreas