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French say oui to algae

INRA announce €160 million new collaborative platform to bring together key players in the development of microalgae in France.

Date Posted 23 Apr 2012
Story Source Dr Matthew Aylott, NNFCC
Relevant Industries Feedstocks Bioenergy Biobased Products Biofuels Biorefining

Green AlgaeMicroalgae - a group of microscopic plant-like organisms - have shown great potential to offer low carbon energy, chemicals, food and feed due to their unique composition, but their potential has yet to be fully realised.

Experts anticipate that we will see major breakthroughs in the production and use of microalgae over the next decade and this is why more than $2 billion has been invested in microalgae research and development.

But most of this research has taken place in the US, where the Government under President Obama have strongly backed the developing algae industry with millions of dollars of taxpayers money.

Now European nations are beginning to match the ambitions of their American counterparts with new projects like EnAlgae and AB-SIG, which are helping to turn Europe into a hub for algae research and innovation.

The latest is the GreenStars programme which was launched earlier this month by INRA - the French public agricultural research institute - and will be supported by a budget of €160 million over 10 years, of which 20 per cent will come from public grants.

The primary goal of the programme over the next decade is to develop compounds of interest, such as efficient biofuels and high added value substances with micro-algae feeding on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and nutrients contained in waste.

Led by INRA in collaboration with 45 regional partners (public research, SMEs, multinationals, local authorities, competitiveness clusters), GreenStars aims at becoming one of the top Institutes of excellence worldwide in the field of microalgae biorefinery within the next five to ten years.

INRA hope that in the future, the programme will help create hundreds of new jobs and opportunities across the various industrial sectors. GreenStars will also train a new generation of engineers to create a strong and sustainable algae-based industry.

The Institute believe GreenStars will have industrial prototypes based on state-of-the-art technologies that will allow the construction of a viable economic and environmental model by as early as 2016.

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