DOE releases summary report on algae crop protection workshop

By Erin Voegele | November 29, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) held a virtual workshop on algae production in April 2021 titled “Barriers to Scale: Algae Crop Production.” A summary of that workshop is now available.

The BETO on Nov. 12 released a detailed summary of the two-day event. Copies of workshop presentations are also now available online.

According to the BETO, a major barrier to the scaling and intensification of algae cultivation is the partial or complete loss of productivity due to pests. Developing effective strategies to maintain harvest yield over time is essential to meeting BETO’s long-term goals of promoting cost competitive biofuels and bioproducts, the agency said.

The summary identifies several key takeaways from the April 2021 event, including that crop protection is a significant issue for all algae growers and that not enough pest-mitigation solutions are currently available to facilitate growth of the industry. The workshop also determined that public data on pests is limited, and the algal community is disincentivized from sharing pest-related data.

The workshop identified several barriers to research, including the fact that pesticide use might be undesirable or untenable and that it is difficult to replicate field conditions in the laboratory. In addition, several potential solutions and paths forward were identified, including the need to focus on developing alternatives to pesticides and the need for both applied and fundamental pest research.

Additional information, including a full copy of the summary, is available on the BETO website