Involvement in the algae biofuels industry shot up by companies 550% between 2005 and 2007, driven by environmental concerns and high crude oil prices. However, oil prices have since declined, and the recent global financial crisis stymied many industries. Currently there seems to be continued interest in algae biofuels, but the industry is also plagued by excessive hype So what is the near-term outlook for the algae biofuels production technologies market?
One of the great benefits of algae as a feedstock is that it can be used to produce an array of biofuels: algal oil, biodiesel, renewable diesel, aviation biofuel, renewable jet fuel, biogasoline, ethanol, butanol, biomethane, and even hydrogen. Algae biofuels production also involves a wide array of technologies, from genetically engineered diatoms, green algae, and cyanobacteria; to open ponds or photobioreactors for cultivation; centrifuges and presses for extraction; and refineries, fermenters, and digesters for processing into fuels.
Because the market for algae biofuels production technologies is diverse, it is helpful to break it down according to subsets of production technologies: cultivation technologies, harvesting and extraction technologies, and algae biofuels production facilities. Through 2015, cultivation technology sales are expected to hold most of the total algae biofuels production technologies market. The remaining market segments will be held by a combination of harvesting and extraction and fuels production facilities, for a total projected market value of over $1.6 billion in 2015. Starting at an estimated $271 million market size for 2010, this increase is significant and underscores that this is a quickly changing and evolving industry, expected to show an annual growth rate of nearly 43 percent.
Algae biofuels production technologies are currently undergoing substantial development and scaled testing. As demonstration and commercial implementation move forward, emerging algae biofuels production technologies will garner up to about a third of the total market by 2015, as some current technologies are rendered obsolete or underperforming in terms of cost and production efficiency.
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