ABO’s 2014 Algae Industry Survey Shows Optimism, Continued Job Creation and Increased Commercialization

Washington, D.C. – March 26, 2014 – A new survey of the algae industry conducted by the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) broadly shows an industry that is growing, from increased production of biomass and oils, to increased hiring, to a wider variety of end products. The survey was conducted in March 2014 and includes more than 280 responses from companies and individuals involved in directly producing and buying algae or algae-derived products, as well as equipment manufacturers, research laboratories, providers of equipment or materials, government agencies and service providers.

As in the previous two annual surveys [2012, 2013] respondents this year continued their optimism that algae-derived fuels are likely to be price competitive with fossil fuels by 2020 (83% agreement); that production will increase in existing and new facilities (72 percent agreement); and that improved supportive federal policy would accelerate both the production of algae-based fuels, feeds, fertilizers and other products as well as the number of jobs across the industry (86 percent agreement).

Optimism in co-products such as feed, food and chemicals was significant, with 97 percent predicting that algae-based feeds and 96 percent predicting algae-based plastics and chemicals will be commercially available by 2020. Respondents noted that in some cases these products were already reaching certain markets.

Some of the increased optimism in the 2014 results could be attributed to the widespread progress of the industry in commercialization efforts and research breakthroughs in the past year. During 2013 several companies opened or continued successful operations at pilot or commercial production facilities, made new advances in yields and algae biology, and attracted renewed policy attention with the formation of the Congressional Algae Caucus.

Regulatory approvals for siting algae industry facilities as well as algae-derived products were cited as the top two priorities for federal policies not yet enacted, suggesting that companies are looking forward to moving from research and testing stages to commercialization. Tax credits and incentives as well as the Renewable Fuel Standard were ranked the top two existing federal policies, suggesting companies seek a level playing field with fossil fuels and other biofuels, as well as a predictable policy environment.

“The Algae Biomass Organization’s survey once again shows an industry that continues to fire on all cylinders,” said Margaret McCormick, chair of the Algae Biomass Organization board and CEO of Matrix Genetics. “In just five short years, this industry has blossomed from a loose collection of researchers and labs to an integrated network and commercial markets, creating jobs and contributing to food and energy security for the United States.”

Other key findings of the survey included:

  • The algae industry supports a wide variety of jobs across the United States. Respondents reported holding all types of positions in their organizations including executives, scientists and researchers, operations or production positions, finance, students and professors.
  • Heavy job growth is projected by 2020, with the percentage of employers with 51-100 employees expected to quintuple and the percentage of employers that expect 101-500 employees more than doubling.
  • Congressional engagement is high—67 percent of respondents’ organizations either have met with or plan to meet with legislators, and more than half of ABO members reported having elected officials tour their facilities.
  • More than 25 percent of producers project the cost of algae-based fuel to be less than $3.00 per gallon and more than 40 percent project the cost to be less than $5.00 per gallon by 2020.

An executive summary of the survey’s results is available at: http://www.algaebiomass.org/resource-center/references/industry-statistics/

You  may also find a slide deck summarizing the findings here.

 Source: ABO