Algae to Biofuels Pathways
Microalgae offer “great promise” to contribute a significant portion of the renewable fuels target specified in the Renewable Fuels Standard. In the longer term, the roadmap notes, algal biofuels could provide sufficient fuel feedstock to meet the transportation fuels needs of the entire United States, while being completely compatible with the existing transportation fuel infrastructure (refining, distribution, and utilization).
However, despite their huge potential, the state of technology for producing algal biofuels is regarded by many in the field to be in its infancy.
There is a general consensus that a considerable amount of research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) needs to be carried out to provide the fundamental understanding and scale-up technologies required before algal-based fuels can be produced sustainably and economically enough to be cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels. For this reason, a major objective of the Workshop was to help define the activities that will be needed to resolve the challenges associated with commercial-scale algal biofuel production and lay the framework for an algal biofuels technology roadmap.
—USDOE Algal Roadmap _GCC
Time, work, investment. More on algae future from Europe.
Several US companies are projecting competitive pricing for their algal fuels within 5 years. European Algae Biomass Association says they will take at least 10 to 15 years and even then may not be competitive. Are the European biofuels projects that far behind?