The future viability of algae-derived biodiesel under economic and technical uncertainties


This study presents a techno-economic assessment of algae-derived biodiesel under economic and technical uncertainties associated with the development of algal biorefineries. A global sensitivity analysis was performed using a High Dimensional Model Representation (HDMR) method. It was found that, considering reasonable ranges over which each parameter can vary, the sensitivity of the biodiesel production cost to the key input parameters decreases in the following order: algae oil content > algae annual productivity per unit area > plant production capacity > carbon price increase rate. It was also found that the Return on Investment (ROI) is highly sensitive to the algae oil content, and to a lesser extent to the algae annual productivity, crude oil price and price increase rate, plant production capacity, and carbon price increase rate. For a large scale plant (100,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year) the production cost of biodiesel is likely to be £0.8–1.6 per kg.

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Keywords: Algae, Algae biomass, Algal biomass, Biodiesel, Biofuels, fuel, HDMR, Low Carbon, Low Carbon Technologies, response surface methodology, Scale-up, sensitivity, sensitivity analysis, Techno-Economic Assessment, Technologies, Uncertainty analysis,

Associated Project: Engines

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