The project Energetic Algae – or EnAlgae – aimed to analyse and further develop the potential of algae as a sustainable source for bioenergy and promising bio-products.
Experts from across North-West Europe evaluated algae-based process chains from an ecological, economical and social perspective, with the aim to define the most efficient and favourable production and utilisation pathways. The project, which started in 2011 and lasted until December 2015, was led by Swansea University (Wales, UK). EnAlgae was a strategic initiative in the framework of the INTERREG IVB North-West Europe Programme. It received € 7.2 million funding from the European Regional Development Fund (50 % of the overall budget).
The project involved 19 institutions from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, France and the Netherlands, creating a North-West European competence network. Furthermore, 9 pilot facilities were part of the project, examining different options for producing macro and micro algae. Through close cooperation of all these partners, current data on optimised proceedings and state of development are integrated in the project’s work.
The information and data collection carried out throughout the project has been made available to the public on a specially designed, user-friendly IT-based platform (“Decision Support Tool”). This platform is envisaged to not only serve as valuable source of information for stakeholders, but also to facilitate decisions on future investments or funding measures. In the future, this tool will be hosted by the Algal information network (“AIN” – managed by the European Biomass Industry Association, EUBIA).
The main overall conclusion from this pan-NWE project indicates that biofuels from algae are unlikely to be of significance for Europe. Nevertheless, algae proved to have a promising potential for other uses and it was shown that political and regulatory frameworks need to be adapted to fully unlock these potentials. This is particularly important for the further development and commercialization of the sector for bioremediation and also for pharma and food/ feed production.”
The policy recommendations, which can be found in the „EnAlgae Report Card 2015“(accessible via the website), include:
- Introduction of a reliable framework supporting algae cultivation and algal products, including the use of algae from waste for certain applications
- Support of the establishment of pilot facilities for developing and testing algae cultivation and processing at commercially relevant scales
- Increasing transparency of societal and market benefits and costs of algae
- Produce, maintain and increase visibility of technical and business competencies supporting algae cultivation and biorefining
The Algal Information Network will then help establish links between all the players involved in the algae industry, which is still very much in its infancy. AIN will further offer access to advice and experts in each of the European member states.
Another legacy of the project is the EnAlgae documentary that has been launched on the project’s YouTube account following its official unveiling in December 2015. It is called Planning for Green Gold: developing the algal bioeconomy and tells the story of the work which has been undertaken on the project over the past four years. It also gives an insight into the context in which the work was undertaken and offers a vision of where related research and the algal industry might go to in the future.
This film, together with the decision support toolset and Algal Information Network, will hopefully help to inform and educate anyone with an interest in EnAlgaes work and the wonders of algae.