Algal Biomass Organization’s Industry Survey Reveals Increased Production, Price-Competitiveness and Need for Level Playing Field

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 1, 2012 – A new survey of the algae industry conducted by the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) shows algae companies are increasing production in 2012, they expect to be price-competitive with petroleum fuels by 2020, and that stable and effective Federal policy would accelerate production and job creation.

The survey of more than 380 algae industry contacts shows a rapidly growing sector: 65 percent of algae producers said they plan to expand capacity in 2012 as they work to provide the U.S with new sources of sustainable, domestically produced fuels.

Respondents are optimistic that algae biofuels will be commercially available and competitive with fossil fuels by 2020, with 90 percent believing that it is at least somewhat likely, and nearly 70 percent believing it is moderately to extremely likely. Nearly 20 percent believe fuel will be $1.50 per gallon or lower while nearly 50 percent believe it will be less than $3.00 per gallon by 2020.

Nearly unanimously respondents agreed that fair and stable government policy would help them develop competitively priced biofuels, increase production and employment. More than 88 percent of respondents said they agree that supportive policy would accelerate the industry’s development, and 81 percent said it was likely that their company would accelerate hiring with supportive policy.

While the new federal investments in research and development will help the industry advance, when it comes to competing with other biofuels algae-based fuels are still at a disadvantage because they doesn’t qualify for the same tax treatment under the Renewable Fuel Standard as other biofuels. When specifically asked if giving algae biofuels the same treatment in the tax code as other biofuels—a policy concept known as tax parity—more than 86 percent agreed that the industry could likely accelerate production.

“It’s clear from these results that the algae industry is moving forward with increased production and employment as well as continued scientific breakthroughs,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of ABO. “The survey confirms what we’ve said for years – that stable and equitable federal policy will only accelerate the development of an industry that can create a sustainable source of domestic fuels and jobs. We’ll continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to educate them on the benefits of algae.”

Other key findings of the survey included:

  • There is a diverse and expanding value chain of companies in the industry. In addition to those involved in directly producing and buying algae or algae products, respondents also included manufacturers, research laboratories, providers of equipment or materials, and those supporting the industry with legal, administrative, IT and consulting services.
  • The algae industry supports a wide variety of jobs across the United States. Respondents reported that their companies had employees working on algae in nearly every state. Besides scientists and engineers, firms are also employing individuals involved in marketing, administrative, sales and operations capacities.
  • There is a strong feeling in the industry that education and awareness about algae’s potential will be an important element of its success. About 99% of respondents felt the public needed to be informed about algae’s benefits. More than half acknowledged they had not been in touch with state or federal policymakers about algae, and many had never hosted a policymaker at their facilities.