Arizona: the Algae State?

By Anna Simet | September 13, 2012

Algae was all over our realm of news this week, which seems befitting as the Algae Biomass Summit in Denver, Colo., is just around the corner. Notably, the bulk of the news was generated from Arizona, which is attracting a whole lot of attention when it comes to algae project prospects.

To recap a few things for you:

-Arizona State University was granted a $15 million U.S. DOE award for its Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3). It’s led by the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation and housed at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, and has support from numerous national labs such as NREL, academic partners such as Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Texas-Austin, as well as industrial partners. ATP3 will function as a testing facility for the algal research community supporting the operation of existing outdoor algae cultivation systems. Testbed facilities for the partnership are physically located in Arizona, Hawaii, California, Ohio, and Georgia.

 -Two new algae-related bills passed in Arizona now classify algae as agriculture and allow for growth and harvest of algae on state trust lands, so the Arizona State Land Department can now issue agricultural leases for algaculture operations. On top of its ideal climate and abundance of land, this will likely make Arizona an even more attractive location for the industry. Some are saying that these bills may be poised to turn Arizona into “The Algae State.” It’s actually only the second state after Ohio to classify algae as agriculture.

 -Outside of Arizona—and out of the country—researchers at two Australia universities have identified a number of sites in western Australia that are suitable for producing algae on a commercial scale for conversion into biofuels. A study detailing the research, “Identification of algae biofuel production sites using GIS model,” provides a geographic assessment of western Australia’s algae production potential, and is allegedly the first of its kind in the country.

And last but not least, we are less than two weeks out from the Algae Biomass Summit, an event that couldn’t possibly host an agenda packed with more algae-related content. Recently announced was that it will open with a welcome from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Hope to see you there!