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Prospects of using microalgae for biofuels production: Results of a Delphi study


  • Ribeiro, Lauro A.
  • da Silva, Patrícia Pereira
  • Mata, Teresa M.
  • Martins, António A.


Advanced biofuels, such as those obtained from microalgae, are widely accepted as better choices for achieving goals of incorporating renewables and non-food fuel sources into the transportation sector, and for overcoming land use issues due to biofuel crops. Main challenges are currently the feasibility of large-scale commercialization of microalgae biofuels, since there are still some technical problems to overcome (e.g. the high energy consumption associated with biomass processing) and the majority of economic and financial analyses are based on pilot-scale projects. Therefore, this article presents the results of a Delphi study aiming to identify the main obstacles and most critical issues affecting the potential of large-scale commercialization of microalgae biodiesel and its incorporation into the fuel market. According to the authors' knowledge, this is the first Delphi study with this objective. The respondents are worldwide market specialists in the survey themes that ranged from biofuels economics to their environmental sustainability. One of the key findings is that most of the experts believe that production of microalgae biofuels will achieve its full commercial scale until 2020, and that from 2021 till 2030 it could represent from 1% to 5% of the worldwide fuel consumption. The study results also showed that environmental issues are where expert opinion differs more.

Suggested Citation

  • Ribeiro, Lauro A. & da Silva, Patrícia Pereira & Mata, Teresa M. & Martins, António A., 2015. "Prospects of using microalgae for biofuels production: Results of a Delphi study," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 799-804.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:renene:v:75:y:2015:i:c:p:799-804
    DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2014.10.065

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brennan, Liam & Owende, Philip, 2010. "Biofuels from microalgae--A review of technologies for production, processing, and extractions of biofuels and co-products," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 557-577, February.
    2. Singh, Jasvinder & Gu, Sai, 2010. "Commercialization potential of microalgae for biofuels production," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(9), pages 2596-2610, December.
    3. Rowe, Gene & Wright, George, 1999. "The Delphi technique as a forecasting tool: issues and analysis," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 353-375, October.
    4. Hirano, Atsushi & Ueda, Ryohei & Hirayama, Shin & Ogushi, Yasuyuki, 1997. "CO2 fixation and ethanol production with microalgal photosynthesis and intracellular anaerobic fermentation," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 137-142.
    5. Mata, Teresa M. & Martins, António A. & Caetano, Nidia. S., 2010. "Microalgae for biodiesel production and other applications: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 217-232, January.
    6. Erica Geraldes Castanheira & Patricia Pereira Da Silva, 2010. "Governance of the emerging biofuel markets in European Union: the Portuguese context," Global Business and Economics Review, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 12(3), pages 230-251.
    7. Ribeiro, Lauro André & Silva, Patrícia Pereira da, 2013. "Surveying techno-economic indicators of microalgae biofuel technologies," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 89-96.
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    Cited by:

    1. Whiting, Kai & Carmona, Luis Gabriel & Sousa, Tânia, 2017. "A review of the use of exergy to evaluate the sustainability of fossil fuels and non-fuel mineral depletion," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 202-211.
    2. Kai Whiting & Luis Gabriel Carmona & Angeles Carrasco & Tânia Sousa, 2017. "Exergy Replacement Cost of Fossil Fuels: Closing the Carbon Cycle," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-1, July.
    3. Baudry, Gino & Delrue, Florian & Legrand, Jack & Pruvost, Jérémy & Vallée, Thomas, 2017. "The challenge of measuring biofuel sustainability: A stakeholder-driven approach applied to the French case," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 933-947.
    4. Baudry, Gino & Macharis, Cathy & Vallée, Thomas, 2018. "Can microalgae biodiesel contribute to achieve the sustainability objectives in the transport sector in France by 2030? A comparison between first, second and third generation biofuels though a range-," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 1032-1046.
    5. Kargbo, Hannah & Harris, Jonathan Stuart & Phan, Anh N., 2021. "“Drop-in” fuel production from biomass: Critical review on techno-economic feasibility and sustainability," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 135(C).
    6. Billig, Eric & Thrän, Daniela, 2016. "Evaluation of biomethane technologies in Europe – Technical concepts under the scope of a Delphi-Survey embedded in a multi-criteria analysis," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 1176-1186.
    7. Na, Jeong-Geol & Park, Young-Kwon & Kim, Doo Il & Oh, You-Kwan & Jeon, Sang Goo & Kook, Jin Woo & Shin, Ji Hoon & Lee, See Hoon, 2015. "Rapid pyrolysis behavior of oleaginous microalga, Chlorella sp. KR-1 with different triglyceride contents," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 779-784.
    8. Lam, Man Kee & Yusoff, Mohammad Iqram & Uemura, Yoshimitsu & Lim, Jun Wei & Khoo, Choon Gek & Lee, Keat Teong & Ong, Hwai Chyuan, 2017. "Cultivation of Chlorella vulgaris using nutrients source from domestic wastewater for biodiesel production: Growth condition and kinetic studies," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 197-207.
    9. Jambo, Siti Azmah & Abdulla, Rahmath & Mohd Azhar, Siti Hajar & Marbawi, Hartinie & Gansau, Jualang Azlan & Ravindra, Pogaku, 2016. "A review on third generation bioethanol feedstock," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 756-769.


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