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Global assessment of research and development for algae biofuel production and its potential role for sustainable development in developing countries

Ademola A. Adenle, Gareth E. Haslam and Lisa Lee

Energy Policy, 2013, vol. 61, issue C, 182-195

Abstract: The possibility of economically deriving fuel from cultivating algae biomass is an attractive addition to the range of measures to relieve the current reliance on fossil fuels. Algae biofuels avoid some of the previous drawbacks associated with crop-based biofuels as the algae do not compete with food crops. The favourable growing conditions found in many developing countries has led to a great deal of speculation about their potentials for reducing oil imports, stimulating rural economies, and even tackling hunger and poverty. By reviewing the status of this technology we suggest that the large uncertainties make it currently unsuitable as a priority for many developing countries. Using bibliometric and patent data analysis, we indicate that many developing countries lack the human capital to develop their own algae industry or adequately prepare policies to support imported technology. Also, we discuss the potential of modern biotechnology, especially genetic modification (GM) to produce new algal strains that are easier to harvest and yield more oil. Controversy surrounding the use of GM and weak biosafety regulatory system represents a significant challenge to adoption of GM technology in developing countries. A range of policy measures are also suggested to ensure that future progress in algae biofuels can contribute to sustainable development.

Keywords: Algae biofuels; Bibliometrics analysis; Sustainable development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.05.088

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