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Assessment of the Technological Development and Economic Potential of Photobioreactos

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  • Holtermann, Timm

    () (Institut für Textiltechnik, RWTH Aachen University)

  • Madlener, Reinhard

    () (E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN))

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the technological development and economic potential of the photobioreactor (PBR) technology for energy purposes, i.e. production of hydrogen or biofuels. The approach adopted is to consider the technology, its expected costs and revenues, and related risks from an investor perspective. To this end we develop an investment model that is used to calculate the economic feasibility of PBRs for different scenarios, including a best-case scenario, with plenty of sunlight and water, inexpensive nutrients, high prices for hydrogen and biomass, and low other costs. The best-case scenario is compared to a scenario with less favorable boundary conditions. We find that PBR efficiencies will likely be less than 10%, with typical values between 1.8-5.6%. We also find that hydrogen production costs would be lower than those for biodiesel or biogas from solid biomass produced in PBRs. Compared to biofuels from traditional agriculture there is a great advantage for the PBR technology if land is scarce, because land is used more efficiently. Since PBRs can be designed as a closed system they can be applied in very dry regions. In the long term this might enable this promising concept to penetrate the energy supply market.

Suggested Citation

  • Holtermann, Timm & Madlener, Reinhard, 2009. "Assessment of the Technological Development and Economic Potential of Photobioreactos," FCN Working Papers 8/2009, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:fcnwpa:2009_008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Holtermann, Timm & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Assessment of the technological development and economic potential of photobioreactors," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 1906-1919, May.
    2. Junginger, Martin & de Visser, Erika & Hjort-Gregersen, Kurt & Koornneef, Joris & Raven, Rob & Faaij, Andre & Turkenburg, Wim, 2006. "Technological learning in bioenergy systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(18), pages 4024-4041, December.
    3. Parker, Nathan C. & Ogden, Joan M. & Fan, Yueyue, 2008. "The role of biomass in California's hydrogen economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 3925-3939, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Meyer, Markus A. & Weiss, Annika, 2014. "Life cycle costs for the optimized production of hydrogen and biogas from microalgae," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 84-93.
    2. Dergiades, Theologos & Madlener, Reinhard & Christofidou, Georgia, 2012. "The Nexus between Natural Gas Spot and Futures Prices at NYMEX: Do Weather Shocks and Non-Linear Causality in Low Frequencies Matter?," FCN Working Papers 17/2012, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), revised Sep 2013.
    3. Bernstein, Ronald & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Responsiveness of Residential Electricity Demand in OECD Countries: A Panel Cointegation and Causality Analysis," FCN Working Papers 8/2011, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    4. Michelsen, Carl Christian & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Homeowners' Preferences for Adopting Residential Heating Systems: A Discrete Choice Analysis for Germany," FCN Working Papers 9/2011, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    5. Rohlfs, Wilko & Madlener, Reinhard, 2013. "Challenges in the Evaluation of Ultra-Long-Lived Projects: Risk Premia for Projects with Eternal Returns or Costs," FCN Working Papers 13/2013, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    6. Zhang, Yanting & Fan, Xiaolei & Yang, Zhiman & Wang, Huanyu & Yang, Dawei & Guo, Rongbo, 2012. "Characterization of H2 photoproduction by a new marine green alga, Platymonas helgolandica var. tsingtaoensis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 38-43.
    7. Rohlfs, Wilko & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Multi-Commodity Real Options Analysis of Power Plant Investments: Discounting Endogenous Risk Structures," FCN Working Papers 22/2011, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    8. Kraas, Birk & Schroedter-Homscheidt, Marion & Pulvermüller, Benedikt & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Economic Assessment of a Concentrating Solar Power Forecasting System for Participation in the Spanish Electricity Market," FCN Working Papers 12/2011, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    9. Taylor, Benjamin & Xiao, Ning & Sikorski, Janusz & Yong, Minloon & Harris, Tom & Helme, Tim & Smallbone, Andrew & Bhave, Amit & Kraft, Markus, 2013. "Techno-economic assessment of carbon-negative algal biodiesel for transport solutions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 262-274.
    10. Namuli, R. & Pillay, P. & Jaumard, B. & Laflamme, C.B., 2013. "Threshold herd size for commercial viability of biomass waste to energy conversion systems on rural farms," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 308-322.
    11. Holtermann, Timm & Madlener, Reinhard, 2011. "Assessment of the technological development and economic potential of photobioreactors," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 1906-1919, May.
    12. Harmsen - van Hout, Marjolein & Ghosh, Gaurav & Madlener, Reinhard, 2013. "The Impact of Green Framing on Consumers’ Valuations of Energy-Saving Measures," FCN Working Papers 7/2013, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).
    13. Harmsen - van Hout, Marjolein & Ghosh, Gaurav & Madlener, Reinhard, 2013. "An Evaluation of Attribute Anchoring Bias in a Choice Experimental Setting," FCN Working Papers 6/2013, E.ON Energy Research Center, Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN).

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    Keywords

    photosynthesis; economics; technology; analysis; algae; bioenergy; hydrogen; market forecast; land use;

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