August 17, 2010 15:23 ET

Algae-Based Biofuels Gets Big Name Backers, Cash Infusion Boost

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - August 17, 2010) -  Solazyme, one of the world's leading developers of algae-based biofuel has announced that they have secured $52 million in funding. Big investors include Morgan Stanley and oil giant Chevron, to name a few. Solazyme, unlike many other biofuel developers who find it difficult to get biofuels out of the lab, has been able to deliver on a deal with the US Navy to supply jet fuel made from algae. The cash infusion has put Solazyme on the path to commercialization in the race for low cost biofuels.

At its current stage, the algae biofuels industry is primarily pursuing pilot and demonstration scale algae cultivation projects and algae biofuels production facility projects. Most development is within the United States, although smaller peripheral markets in the European Union and Asia are expected in the later years of this market assessment due to collaborations with the U.S. algae biofuels industry.

Investment in the algae biofuels industry -- a driving factor in the growth of algae biofuels technology markets -- has principally come through private investment, venture capital firms and their limited partners, strategic partnerships with companies from other industries, and government funding. The algae biofuels industry is currently the dominant end user market for algae biofuels technologies and their constituent components and products.

According to SBI Energy's new industry study Algae Biofuels Production Technologies Worldwide, the accumulated market value of algae biofuels is estimated to be $271 million in 2010 and will grow to over $1.6 billion by 2015. This quickly changing and evolving industry is expected to show an annual growth rate of nearly 43 percent.

"SBI Energy expects over a dozen demonstration- and commercial-scale algae cultivation projects in construction by 2015 in the United States, European Union, and Asia," states SBI Energy publisher Shelley Carr. "SBI Energy expects the start of construction on commercial-scale raceway pond algae cultivation projects and photobioreactor (PBR) projects for algae cultivation equipped with algae harvesting and oil extraction technologies. Several biofuels production facilities and biorefineries are also expected that will be optimized for the production of algal oil-based biofuels or will otherwise be utilizing algae production feedstocks by 2015." 

Algaculture has been promoted as an ideal platform for biofuels production due to the less-intensive land requirements, shorter production and harvesting cycles, and the faster growth rates of aquatic microalgae as compared to terrestrial biofuels crops such as corn or soybeans. Unfortunately, the existing algae biofuels industry has very little experience with large-scale algaculture. At present, algae biofuels are unable to directly compete with petroleum fuels based upon the latter's technologically and operationally-grounded production cycle. However, ongoing capital and research investment, government incentives, regulations, proposed demonstration programs and a trend in producers reaching closer to commercialization could work in the face of this trend.

Algae Biofuels Production Technologies Worldwide covers total market and growth for algae biofuels technologies between 2010 and 2015. It identifies key energy market trends for petroleum, natural gas, ethanol, and biodiesel and the effects upon the development and activity of the algae biofuels industry. It includes the profiles of leading and pioneering technology developers and manufacturers active within the market for algae biofuels technologies such as Bayer, Desmet Ballestra, Georg Fischer, Siemens, UOP, Algenol Biofuels, OriginOil and Solazyme.

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