ABO survey shows continued optimism for growth, commercialization

By Algae Biomass Organization | March 12, 2015

A survey of the algae industry conducted by the Algae Biomass Organization broadly shows high expectations for continued growth in the sector as well as increased production of a wide range of algae-derived products. The survey was conducted in February and includes more than 230 responses from companies and individuals involved in directly producing and buying algae or algae-derived products, as well as equipment manufacturers, research laboratories, providers of equipment or materials, government agencies and service providers.

As in the previous three annual surveys, respondents this year continued their optimism that algae-derived fuels are likely to be price competitive with fossil fuels by 2020 (75 percent agreement); that algae based feeds will be commercially available by 2020 (97 percent agreement); and that algae-based plastics and chemicals will be commercially available in the same timeframe (93 percent agreement).

A majority of producers reported plans to increase production capacity (70 percent agreement); and many expect positive hiring trends through 2015 and beyond.

The positive attitudes could be attributed to the widespread progress of the industry in commercialization efforts and research breakthroughs in the past year. During 2014 the industry improved capacity at commercial production facilities, made new advances in yields and algae biology, and made significant progress on the policy front with the leadership of the Congressional Algae Caucus.

Federal support for algae and carbon utilization R&D and commercialization, along with streamlined regulatory approvals for algae products or facilities were cited as the top two priorities for the future, suggesting that companies are looking forward to continuing their transitions from research and demonstration stages to commercialization.

“The members of the Algae Biomass Organization are moving quickly to develop technologies that will provide consumers with products they want without negative impacts on our food, climate or energy security,” said Matt Carr, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “This survey captures the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs and scientists that are tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges, creating new jobs and new sources of fuel, feed and other products.”

Other key findings of the survey included:

- The algae industry supports a wide variety of jobs across the United States. Respondents reported holding all types of positions in their organizations including executives, scientists and researchers, operations or production positions, finance, students and professors.

- Significant job growth is projected by 2020, with the percentage of employers with 51-100 employees expected to continue to increase and the percentage of employers that expect 101-500 employees expected to increase eightfold.

- Congressional engagement is high—68 percent of respondents’ organizations either have met with or plan to meet with legislators, and more than half of ABO members reported having elected officials tour their facilities.

- Forty-six percent of producers project the cost of algae-based fuel to be less than $3.00 per gallon and more than 91 percent project the cost to be less than $5.00 per gallon by 2020.

An executive summary of the survey’s results is available on the ABO website.

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.