ABO announces leadership award winners, industry survey report

By The Algal Biomass Organization | March 05, 2012

The Algal Biomass Organization, the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, announced the recipients of the second annual Algae Industry Leadership awards: U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M. and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Tom Hicks. The annual Algae Industry Leadership Awards recognize those that demonstrate outstanding leadership in helping increase the awareness of, enthusiasm for and use of algae-derived fuels and other products.

Udall and Crapo were recognized for their introduction of the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Parity Act of 2011. This act would amend the Clean Air Act and combine the existing categories of “cellulosic biofuel” and “advanced biofuel” into a single technology-neutral category of “advanced biofuel.” The bill would level the playing field and give algae-derived biofuels the same tax treatment as cellulosic biofuels.

Vilsack was selected for the USDA’s tireless support of the algae industry. He has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in support from various programs, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, partnerships with the U.S. DOE for research and development, and loan guarantees to companies building facilities that will produce the next generation of domestic biofuels.

Hicks was selected for his leadership in driving the testing and use of advanced biofuels for the U.S. Navy in an effort to reduce the military's reliance on fossil fuels. The broad testing of renewable fuels and the Navy's commitment to use biofuels—including those derived from algae—has helped to accelerate investment and commercialization efforts in the algae industry.

“Each of these leaders recognizes the significant potential of algae-derived fuels and products to create jobs, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and create a new and lasting domestic industry,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of ABO. “With their continued support, our members will continue to bring new products and technologies to market for the benefit of all.”

The Algae Industry Leadership awards were presented last week in Washington, D.C., as part of ABO's annual legislative fly-in.

In other ABO news, a new survey of the algae industry conducted by the organization shows algae companies are increasing production in 2012, they expect to be price-competitive with petroleum fuels by 2020, and that stable and effective Federal policy would accelerate production and job creation.

The survey of more than 380 algae industry contacts shows a rapidly growing sector: 65 percent of algae producers said they plan to expand capacity in 2012 as they work to provide the U.S with new sources of sustainable, domestically produced fuels.

Respondents are optimistic that algae biofuels will be commercially available and competitive with fossil fuels by 2020, with 90 percent believing that it is at least somewhat likely, and nearly 70 percent believing it is moderately to extremely likely. Nearly 20 percent believe fuel will be $1.50 per gallon or lower while nearly 50 percent believe it will be less than $3 per gallon by 2020.

Nearly unanimously respondents agreed that fair and stable government policy would help them develop competitively priced biofuels, increase production and employment. More than 88 percent of respondents said they agree that supportive policy would accelerate the industry’s development, and 81 percent said it was likely that their company would accelerate hiring with supportive policy.

While the new federal investments in research and development will help the industry advance, when it comes to competing with other biofuels algae-based fuels are still at a disadvantage because they do not qualify for the same tax treatment under the renewable fuel standard as other biofuels. When specifically asked if giving algae biofuels the same treatment in the tax code as other biofuels—a policy concept known as tax parity—more than 86 percent agreed that the industry could likely accelerate production.

“It’s clear from these results that the algae industry is moving forward with increased production and employment as well as continued scientific breakthroughs,” Rosenthal said. “The survey confirms what we’ve said for years—that stable and equitable federal policy will only accelerate the development of an industry that can create a sustainable source of domestic fuels and jobs. We’ll continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to educate them on the benefits of algae.”

Other key findings of the survey included:

- There is a diverse and expanding value chain of companies in the industry. In addition to those involved in directly producing and buying algae or algae products, respondents also included manufacturers, research laboratories, providers of equipment or materials, and those supporting the industry with legal, administrative, IT and consulting services.

- The algae industry supports a wide variety of jobs across the U.S. Respondents reported that their companies had employees working on algae in nearly every state. Besides scientists and engineers, firms are also employing individuals involved in marketing, administrative, sales and operations capacities.

- There is a strong feeling in the industry that education and awareness about algae’s potential will be an important element of its success. About 99 percent of respondents felt the public needed to be informed about algae’s benefits. More than half acknowledged they had not been in touch with state or federal policymakers about algae, and many had never hosted a policymaker at their facilities.

Products made from algae are the natural solution to the energy, food, economic, and climate challenges facing our world today. Algae have the power to simultaneously put fuels in our vehicles, recycle CO2, provide nutrition for animals and people and create jobs for millions of Americans. More information can be found at www.allaboutalgae.com.