A review of the potential of marine algae as a source of biofuel in Ireland February 2009

This report, commissioned by Sustainable Energy Ireland, provides an overview of algae as an energy resource, from either marine macroalgae or microalgae. It is also assess the potential resource in Ireland, determine the level of activity and recommend research and development priorities.
The focus of this report is the main biomass resources in the marine environment - marine algae, either macroalgae (seaweeds) or microalgae (phytoplankton). Freshwater species were excluded from the brief.
The scope of the study adheres generally to the original tender request, which includes the following key items which are addressed within the report:
• Review international developments in marine algae as a source of biofuels
• Identify technologies to grow, harvest and convert marine algae to biofuel
• Present illustrative examples
• Highlight barriers to commercialisation which need to be addressed
• Identify co-product/residue issues
• Provide outline cost estimates for commercial projects
• Identify potential applications in the Irish context
• Highlight factors that favour a site for algae production and the types of algae that might be suitable
• Estimate the potential for development to 2020
• Identify important research topics in order to realise potential for biofuel from marine algae in Ireland
The report contents have been set out in logical sections as set out below, in addition to this introductory section.
• Section 2: This section sets out a supply-chain review in order to give a complete picture of the resources, technologies and barriers to commercialisation. Case studies are elaborated for macroalgae and microalgae.
• Section 3: This covers costs and productivity estimates. There is no existing commercial technology. The estimates are not based on reliable data in an Irish context, and for this reason are set out as a stand-alone section.
• Section 4: This estimates the potential for development in Ireland, where factors favouring (or limiting) production in Ireland are outlined and tentative roadmaps out to 2020 described for macroalgae and microalgae.
• Section 5: This section outlines a number of research programmes and commercial developments, building on earlier sections to present a point in time overview. This highlights the international context within which any Irish projects must be viewed and the need for collaborative research.
• Section 6: The research priorities which need to be addressed in order to commercialise marine algae for biofuel are outlined. This is done by first addressing issues globally and then by attempting to identify specific priorities for an Irish R&D programme.
• Section 7: Draws some overall conclusions and highlights the principal findings of the report.

By: Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI)