The global algae market is developing at a gradual pace around the world, with a number of algae oil production facilities yet to be fully commercialized. Growing concerns regarding the emission of greenhouse gases have driven the adoption of renewable energy sources, algae being a prominent one. Apart from a rising demand for algae-based biofuels in road, marine, and aviation applications, the plastics industry has also upped its demand for algae to produce biodegradable plastics.
The global algae market was valued at US$608.0 mn in 2015 and is projected to reach US$1.1 bn by 2024, at a CAGR of 7.39% therein. In terms of volume, the market is poised to expand at a 5.32% CAGR between 2016 and 2024.
Low Investment Requirements Drive Adoption of Open Pond Cultivation Technology
In terms of cultivation technology, the algae market has been classified into open ponds cultivation technology, raceway ponds cultivation technology, closed photo bio-reactors, and closed fermenter systems. On a global scale, more than 80% of algal biomass is generated through open pond cultivation technology. Open pond cultivation systems require low investment and as a result are utilized on a larger scale.
However, in recent years, established players such as Algae Tec and Solazyme, Inc. have been investing more on emerging cultivation technologies such as closed photo bioreactors and fermenter systems for better productivity under the close monitoring of automated systems.
Closed photo bio-reactors are an emerging technology used to promote biological growth by controlling environmental parameters such as light. The only disadvantages presented by this technology are high capital costs and long payback periods.
Surge in Algae Cultivation in North America a Key Contributing Factor
In terms of geography, the global algae market comprises North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. In 2015, North America led the global algae market. Countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Mexico house more than 135 companies engaged in algae cultivation and this is a key factor driving the algae market in the region. The North America algae market is single-handedly driven by the U.S., constituting around 86.4% of the market by volume and around 87.6% by value in 2016. The U.S. is anticipated to dominate the algae market through 2024 thanks to the expansion of production facilities and efforts to overcome the demand-supply gap. The North America algae market is considerably more mature than other regional markets such as Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and MEA.
Countries in Asia Pacific are focusing on algal biotechnology in wastewater bioremediation and CO2 capture and utilization. Asia Pacific hosts five of the top 10 carbon emitters in the world –India, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Iran – who contribute to more than 40% of the global emissions. Strong movements are under way to fully commercialize the production of biofuels from algae. Currently, more than 50% of the algae produced through various cultivation technologies are utilized in DHA production to manufacture chemical components for medicines, health foods, cosmetics, and food additives.
Key players in the global algae market include Algae Tec, Pond Biofuels Incorporated, LiveFuels, Inc., Algae Systems LLC, Sapphire Energy, Inc., Solazyme, Inc., Diversified Energy Corporation, Algenol, Kai BioEnergy Corp., Algix, DSM Nutritional Products, Dao Energy, LLC, Phycal LLC, and Kent BioEnergy Corporation.