Place: Europe
Year(s): 2011-2015
Sector: Biomass & Bioenergy

European partnership to unlock the potential of algal bioenergy

A major €14 million initiative is bringing experts from across North West Europe together to develop the potential of algae as a source of sustainable energy.

The four-year transnational Energetic Algae – or EnAlgae – project, led by Swansea University (Wales, UK), is a strategic initiative funded by the INTERREG IVB North West Europe Programme via the European Regional Development Fund, together with a range of co-sponsors.

It involves 19 Partners and 13 Observers across eight EU member states; France, Belgium, UK, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, and aims to reduce CO2 emissions and dependency on unsustainable energy sources, through the accelerated development and deployment of algal-based biomass and bioenergy technologies.

In 2009, the EC Greenhouse Gas Inventory reported that North West Europe was responsible for more than 40 per cent of the EU’s total Greenhouse Gas emissions. This was due to the region’s high population density and its intensive level of industrial and rural development.

Given such considerable pressures on the environment and current energy sources, sustainable bioenergy innovations could help provide a solution to tackling CO2 emissions across the region, encouraging growth of a Low Carbon Economy.

Currently, algal bioenergy technologies are immature, but rapid advances are being made in the field.
The EnAlgae initiative will allow expert centres across North West Europe to form an integrated pilot network to support and accelerate the development of new algal-based technologies to the point of commercialisation.

The project is unique in developing best practices that will influence European policies on algal biomass production, bioenergy and bioremediation technologies, thereby de-risking and accelerating commercialisation of the sector.

The project’s manager Dr Robin Shields, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) at Swansea University’s College of Science, said: “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.

“Thanks to close transnational cooperation, EnAlgae partners and stakeholders will gain access to those sustainable technologies most suited to their local operating conditions.

“As project lead partner, Swansea University is delighted to extend its industry-focused research on algal bioremediation and biorefinery technologies, in partnership with acknowledged experts from across North West Europe.”