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A €14m European initiative looks at algae bioenergy

The €14 million Energetic Algae (EnAlgae) initiative bringing together several European research organisations, has been set up to study algae as a potential bioenergy source over a four and a half year period.

By Kari Williamson

The aim is to address the current lack of information on macro- and microalgal productivity in North West Europe.

EnAlgae will establish a series of pilot scale seaweed farms and microalgae growth facilities in to provide information needed to assess the productivity of algae bioenergy.

The information will be used to better understand the economics and greenhouse gas balances of making fuel, energy and other products from algae in North West Europe. Another output will a computer-based tool to inform decision makers about how and where algae could be grown in the region.

"Algae offers significant potential for the sustainable production of energy and fuels. Much of the focus so far has been on the production of algae in more favourable climates, such as the US, but there is a distinct lack of information about how algae grow at scale in more challenging climates," says algae lead at the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC), Dr Claire Smith.

The project’s Manager, Dr Robin Shields, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research at Swansea University, adds: "Algal bioenergy has been identified as a strategic priority by the INTERREG IVB NWE programme. The EnAlgae expert partnership has been formed to develop and implement technologies tailored to the unique socio-economic and environmental conditions of North West Europe."

INTERREG IVB is a financial instrument of the European Union's Cohesion Policy.

EnAlgae is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund by the North West Europe INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme and the Welsh Government's Targeted Match Fund, together with a range of co-sponsors.

The EnAlgae partnership comprises:

  • Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR), UK (Lead Partner)
  • European Biomass Industry Association (BE)
  • Ghent University (BE)
  • Laborelec Ltd (GDF-SUEZ) (BE)
  • Flanders Marine (BE)
  • University College West Flanders (BE)
  • Agency for Renewable Resources (DE)
  • HTW University of Applied Sciences (DE)
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (DE)
  • Centre d’Etude et de Valorisation des Algues (FR)
  • National University of Ireland Dublin, University College Dublin (IE)
  • National University of Ireland, Galway (IE)
  • Wageningen UR (including Plant Research International) / ACRRES (NL)
  • Birmingham City University (UK)
  • InCrops Enterprise Hub (UK)
  • National Non-Food Crops Centre (UK)
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (UK)
  • The Scottish Association for Marine Science (UK)

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