Panning for Green Gold: Documentary

Enalgae was a NWE project that started in 2011 with the purpose to explore the potential of micro and macro (seaweed) algae as a bioenergy source, reducing CO2 emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. Four years of intensive research later, their conclusion is that this is not a viable way to get clean energy. “It’s clear from all the work and studies we’ve done that algae for energy alone is not a viable proposition,” said the project’s principle investigator, Professor Kevin Flynn. A new documentary explains how a group of 19 partners from 7 EU countries came to this conclusion. It also tells about the potential for new products they have discovered in Algae.

The Algae industry is still an immature sector, with the associated high costs. As a result of EnAlgae’s research, the resource footprint and environmental impact from energetic algae as a biofuel currently exceeds that of fossil fuels, but still with significant potential through longer term energy reduction and up-scaling. EnAlgae has also helped to identify several medium term opportunities “The most effective developments in this field will be ones which look at the big picture, and at how bio-remediation, cultivation, aquaculture and downstream processing can work alongside each other.”

It’s clear from all the work and studies we’ve done that algae for energy alone is not a viable proposition

Professor Kevin Flynn

The EnAlgae partnership explored not just the scientific and technical aspects of algae production, but also the legal regimes. The project undertook real world activities, developing an integrated network of 5 microalgae and 3 macroalgae pilots sites across North-West Europe. The operation of these sites enabled development of standard operating procedures for the large scale growth of micro and macro algae, as well as for strain maintenance.

EnAlgae also mapped out the wider policy landscape including the regulatory and licensing framework, the macro and business economics of micro & macro algae in NWE, policy recommendations for systemic barriers affecting algae production in NWE and provision of decision support tools designed for NWE.

Transnational cooperation formed a central operational aspect of the project. Operating activities across a range of institutions in a host of different, excellent working relationship were needed by the project partners. Cooperation took place at different levels of the project functioning on a regular basis, with joint development of project activities and outputs.

All these results are all available on the project website EnAlgae has partnered with the European Biomass Industry Association, EUBIA, to ensure the results of the project have a lasting impact. The Algal Information Network, AIN, is to be hosted by EUBIA and will both preserve the legacy EnAlgae, as well as to help manage and implement its results.

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