Algae: How they can play a crucial role in saving the planet

The Seaweed they are not silk ribbons, but they can become something better: a solution climate.

This is according to a study by investors Craig Douglas, European climate tech VC, World Fund and partner and investment director Catapult VC Ross Brooks, arguing that algae present a huge opportunity by replacing fossil fuels and capturing technology coal.

With seas covering 70% of the planet’s surface, ocean-based climate solutions offer huge potential for scale, the study says.

Studies have shown that algae can store about 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and about 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

But he also cautions that ocean-based methods for sequestering CO2 have so far been underexplored, although European startups are finally making progress on approaches and solutions that focus specifically on our familiar algae.

Fossil fuel displacement

Short-term solutions include using algae to help displace mineral-based products such as bioplastics and bioenergy, the report notes.

Algae can also be widely used as a food source and animal feed to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

It also predicts that the biostimulant plant market in Europe alone could be worth €1.8 billion by 2030, while the biopackaging industry could be worth €1.3 billion.

Parallel benefits

The study also argues that there are many co-benefits of expanding cabbage planting and cultivation.

For example, it can act as an important habitat for other forms of marine life and also absorbs excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the water in which it grows.

Douglas noted that the potential for long-term carbon sequestration is “astronomically high” and that algae could be one of the largest carbon stores on the planet.

“It’s a matter of translating this opportunity into terms that the mass market already understands. It’s an investment in the ocean,” Brooks added.

Investments in new infrastructure

“We’re investing in new energy infrastructure, new food infrastructure and water infrastructure.”

“We have to deal with a huge industry transition, and we’re not going to do it through a typical venture route. We need to create a different way to scale and build new infrastructure,” Brooks told me.

Ross added: “We’re really at the tip of the iceberg” in terms of our understanding of algae, with research opening new and existing strains to improved sustainability, growth, consistency of performance and improved formulation for end-market applications.

“We’re looking at a number of different innovations coming together over the next few years that will really increase the consistency of the yield, quality and properties of algae, for what you’re trying to grow it for,” he said.

“For example, if we can reach 20,000 square kilometers with cultivated algae, that’s potentially 50 million tons of carbon sequestration if we factor in the sediment and turn it into biochar.

“The opportunity for volume is huge, and we haven’t even begun to scale in Europe and North America.”

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