Cranfield University has been commissioned to develop a supplier network for algae-based biofuel technology and services in the East of England – a region set to become a major growth area in renewable energy in the next 10-15 years.
The OASIS Network aims to disseminate information on the technological and commercial opportunities in producing biofuels from algae and will begin by holding a number of seminars across the region.
The setting up of the network follows a move by some of the biggest names in the world of aviation joining the Cranfield SURF (Sustainable Use of Renewable Fuels) project to grow, harvest and process algae in commercial qualities for use as fuel.
The eventual aim of the initiative is to develop an ocean-based facility which uses the expanse of the world’s ocean to grow microalgae at a faster rate and to capture CO2 both from the atmosphere and the sea.
With North Sea oil reserves declining, an alternative fuel source is needed in the longer term if the UK is to meet the European Union’s renewable energy targets for 2020 – that’s 20 per cent of overall energy consumption and 10 per cent of transport fuel is to come from renewable sources. As algae grows in sea water and with over 70 per cent of the surface of the earth being water, a marine-based approach is a logical and potentially high-yield solution.
This approach is a more sustainable method of biofuel production because it does not compete with agriculture land, nor does it require fresh water, result in deforestation, or damage the environment.
OASIS Network coordinator Simon Broome said: “We’re running free seminars across the region to help identify and establish a network of suppliers for the technology and services to develop such a facility. We want to encourage businesses in different sectors to consider how they might contribute to design and adapt their existing skill sets, equipment and services to meet the demands of this new biofuel industry.
“For the suppliers, it presents an opportunity to be a part of this from the very beginning and hopefully go on to become established as suppliers for microalgae production.”
If your company is based in Beds, Cambs, Norfolk, Suffolk or Essex, register for more information and details at: www.oasisnetwork.co.uk