London, England – The U.K. government’s Carbon Trust has launched the Algae Biofuels Challenge, with a mission to commercialize the use of algae biofuel as an alternative to fossil-based oil by 2010. The research and development intiative could see the Carbon Trust commit £3 to £6 million in funding in the initial stage; the Department of Transport recently announced that it will be contributing to the funding also.

Beyond 2010, algae-based biofuel has the potential to replace a significant proportion of fossil fuel, saving hundreds of millions of tonnes each year globally while creating an industry worth tens of billions of pounds. Initial forecasts suggest that algae-based biofuels could replace over 70 billion litres of fossil-derived fuels used worldwide annually in road transport and aviation by 2030. This would equate to an annual carbon saving of over 160 million tonnes of CO2 globally, and a market value of over £15 billion.

“We must find a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to oil for our cars and planes if we are to deliver the deep cuts in carbon emissions necessary to tackle climate change,” said Dr. Mark Williamson, Innovations Director at the Carbon Trust. “Algae could provide a significant part of the answer and represents a multi-billion-pound opporunity. Through the Algae Biofuels Challenge, we will be combining the U.K.’s undoubted expertise in the area with our unique knowledge and expedrience of commercializing ealry-stage low-carbon technologies, to give the best possible chance of successfully producing cost-competitive algal biofuel at scale.”

The Carbon Trust is seeking expertise from algae specialists in the U.K. to develop “green oil”; the challenge is to produce this second-generation biofuel cost-effectively at scale. If successful, algae could deliver 6 to 10 times more energy per hectare than conventional cropland biofuels, while reducing carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent relative to fossil fuels. Algae can also be grown on non-arable land, using seawater or wastewater.

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