In Italy, the European Algae Biomass Association officially launched yesterday with a decidedly pessimistic outlook for commercial-scale algae bioenergy production. New EABA Executive Director Raffaello Garofalo said that it will take 10 to 15 years for algae to reach industrial-scale production, and that, at present, making biodiesel from algae costs 10 to 30 times the cost of making biodiesel from traditional feedstocks.
Garofalo told Reuters that the new association has 54 members and that he saw a price of $500-$550 emerging for the algal fuel market, in the long-term, after other fractinos of algae biomass were sold for animal feed or to the nutraceutical markets. Garofalo referred to pilot projects in Portugal and Italy but cautioned against expectations of quick breakthroughs in the path towards algae commercialization.
This outlook contrasts with a more upbeat assessment from the United States, where Sapphire Energy has projected that it will reach 1 Mgy in production in 2011 and 100 Mgy by 2018, while Solazyme has projected reaching 100 Mgy by 2012 or 2013. Biofields has projected production in Mexico of 250 Mgy by 2013 based on the Algenol process, and PetroAlgae has indicated it expects reach commercial-scale production volumes (below 100 Mgy) in 2011 based on its licensing activity to date. Aurora Biofuels has projected the development of “$1.30 at the gate” fuel by 2013.
My opinion of this? I think the European Algae Biomass Association should pay closer attention to the news.