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ALG-AD Market Review and Policy Recommendations

Category: bioenergy
Published: 09/07/2021
Author: NNFCC
Policy recommendations for the commercialisation of ALG-AD technology

This report specifically documents and summarises:

  • The key regulatory framework applicable to the production and use of NRD-grown microalgae as ‘feed material’ for ‘farmed animals’ (agricultural livestock, aquaculture, and non-food producing animals), as the main market being targeted by ALG-AD.
  • Safety aspects of using NRD-grown algae in animal feed applications in the EU.
  • Key regulatory barriers affecting the commercialisation of the ALG-AD value chain.
  • Policy alternatives for using ALG-AD products in different markets, such as feed additives, biostimulants, and novel foods.
  • A series of actions required to support ALG-AD technology adoption and address identified barriers, from a regulatory perspective

This report is a follow-up of an in-depth regulatory review, also conducted by NNFCC. The findings from the in-depth review are summarised and discussed below, in relation to their impact and specific actions that need to be taken in order to commercialise the technology.

Number of pages: 26

This report was commissioned by the ALG-AD North West Europe Interreg Project. For more information on ALG-AD see here.

Accessibility: This item is freely available


Throughout the EU, anaerobic digestion (AD) is widely used as an effective means of managing food waste, livestock waste and other agricultural wastes via their conversion into biogas and nutrient-rich digestate (NRD). Whilst biogas is the primary product of this process, digestate is widely recognised as a valuable by-product and is used across the continent in fertiliser applications. Spreading of digestate is regulated as it can have negative and potentially damaging impacts on the environment, with the most significant risk being eutrophication of water bodies. Therefore, strict limits are imposed on the use of fertilisers around Europe and it is often not possible to return all digestate produced in AD facilities back to land, thus causing a build-up of material with no alternative application.

The Interreg North-West Europe ALG-AD project intends to integrate NRD-grown microalgae cultivation systems with existing AD facilities, to create value from Nutrient-Rich Digestate (NRD) that is produced in excess of that permitted for land spreading, and therefore currently has no industrial application. Soluble nutrients contained within digestate could be used to feed microalgae, which in turn will be used as a sustainable protein source for animal feed.

This study examines the EU legislation across the entire microalgae production value chain, focusing first on how the requirements apply to the use of microalgae as a ‘feed material’, the main market being targeted by ALG-AD, before investigating the regulatory framework for accessing alternative markets and drawing together a series of policy recommendations to address the main barriers identified. The report is intended to inform project partners initially, then a broader set of stakeholders and end users with an interest in this value chain.