The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has set a goal of reaching 7% of energy demand provided by renewable sources and technologies by 2020, and algae based fuel are one of the options.
The need for alternative fuel sources is urgent as proved by the worldwide declining of major hydrocarbon reservoirs and the high demand on hydrocarbon.
Today, sustainable energy has become a key factor to promote economic, environmental and social growth, and the key driver for sustainable development and the preservation of the environment.
Algae based biofuels or biodiesel are among the strongest options to serve as an alternative source of hydrocarbon.
Biodiesel burns 50% cleaner than conventional petroleum derived diesel and can be used in any diesel engine with little to no modification.
UAE especially Abu Dhabi has strong potential for biofuel production from algae. It is mainly because UAE coast has favorable environment and geological conditions necessary for commercial production of this fuel.
It has large barren coastal landscape, plenty of sunlight, saline water, and presence of coastal and inland sabkhas (salt-flat areas) that has thick algal mat cover.
Producing biofuel from algae is relatively a new approach which is creating interest among the scientific communities all over the world. Biofuel derived from micro-algae has many advantages over biofuels produced from soybean.
Most primarily, algae grow naturally and abundantly in coastal areas near the seas and also in the sabkhas. Unlike main crops, there is no need to use cultivable land, no water and fertilizers to grow algae. This reduces the environmental impact on Earth.
By just replicating the natural conditions, algae can be cultivated for production of biofuel.
The research on algae is on going along with industrial partners to identify the upper limit of how much algae can be grown in the UAE.
The main advantage of algae is its higher production value compared its rivals. In fact, algae results in a yearly production of 100 barrels per hectare per year against palm oil 32 barrels, and soya bean 2.5 barrels per hectare per year.