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Algal capture of carbon dioxide; biomass generation as a tool for greenhouse gas mitigation with reference to New Zealand energy strategy and policy

Mike Packer

Energy Policy, 2009, vol. 37, issue 9, 3428-3437

Abstract: The use of algae to capture carbon dioxide as a method for greenhouse gas mitigation is discussed. A small fraction of the sunlight energy that bathes Earth is captured by photosynthesis and drives most living systems. Life on Earth is carbon-based and the energy is used to fix atmospheric carbon dioxide into biological material (biomass), indeed fossil fuels that we consume today are a legacy of mostly algal photosynthesis. Algae can be thought of as marine and freshwater plants that have higher photosynthetic efficiencies than terrestrial plants and are more efficient capturing carbon (Box 1). They have other favourable characteristics for this purpose. In the context of New Zealand energy strategy and policy I discuss progress in growing algae and seaweeds with emphasis on their application for exhaust flue carbon recycling for possible generation of useful biomass. I also introduce schemes utilising wild oceanic algae for carbon dioxide sequestration and the merits and possible adverse effects of using this approach. This paper is designed as an approachable review of the science and technology for policy makers and a summary of the New Zealand policy environment for those wishing to deploy biological carbon sequestration.

Keywords: Algal; biomass; carbon; dioxide; capture; High; productivity; biofuel; New; Zealand; policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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