According to the University of Wageningen microalgae can supply the whole of Europe and get rid of the lock foreign oil has on Europe.
Microscopic algae, produced in large scale installations, are an attractive alternative for fossil fuels, researchers René Wijffels and Maria Barbosa say in Science (13th of august). In time algae could make Europe independent of fossil fuels. Algae transfer sunlight and fertilizers way more efficient into usable oil than agriculture crops. The potential of algae is, according to the researchers, almost ten times bigger than the potential of crops.
To grow algae, fertilizers like nitrogen and phosphate can be extracted from surpluses in animal fertilizer and sewage. This process is economically viable and with the total replacement of fossil fuels with fuels from algae an amount of 0,3 billion tons of proteins can be gained to feed our life stock. This is 40 times the amount of proteins from soy beans which Europe annually imports.
The production will require 9,25 million hectares of space, a size comparable with Portugal. This is calculated with a production of 40,000 liters of biofuel per hectare. As this is an enormous amount of space, production of algae won’t start as soon as many people would hope. However, researchers are experimenting with vertical farmlands were algae could grow in levels on top of each other.