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Kick-off Meeting Algae & Climate

Event date:
20/01/2022 - 15:00
Table of Contents
    can producing and consuming more algae make a significant contribution to our climate goals?

     

    • to estimate the nutritional yield from a selection of different algae species, cultivated in marine waters and inland, in both closed and open systems;
    • to estimate the costs and greenhouse gas emissions of algae production benchmarked against the production of land based crops with similar nutritional properties such as soya;
    • to estimate the carbon price that would allow for production systems that use flue gas sources of carbon dioxide to break even;
    • to map the land area that could be used for inland production of algae;
    • to estimate the proportion of an animal’s feed requirements that could be met by algae.

    Participants:

    • Cinea: Rocío Suárez Jiménez, Sonia Karasavvidou, Luca Marangoni
    • DG MARE: Iain Shepherd, Grigore Rischitor and Maris Stulgis
    • Consortium: Pierre Strosser & Rianne van Duinen (ACTeon), Annette Bruhn & Mette Olaf Nielsen (AU), Marianne Thomsen (KU), Jaap van Hal& Jan Wilco Dijkstra (TNO)

    Introduction

    The kick-off meeting of the Algae and Climate study took place on January 20th, 2022. Its main objectives were (see agenda in annex): (a) to set the scene and clarify the EC main expectations vis-à-vis the study; (b) to present and discuss the approach and methodology proposed by the consortium, in particular a series of issues that are seen as central to the study’s implementation and added-value; (c) to clarify administrative and financial issues relevant to the implementation of the contract.

    The following paragraphs summarise the main elements discussed.

    Main EC expectations

    The study will need to:

    • Complement the analysis of how algae could contribute to animal feeds with an analysis of their contributions to aquaculture production;
    • Consider how land that is improper for crop cultivation could be used for algae production;
    • Identify what would be technically and financially feasible on the basis of resource availability and production constraints;
    • Give attention to contaminants that are present in different algae species (and potentially also in different flue gazes of effluents from wastewater treatment plants used for producing algae), and how this constraint their integration into livestock feeds (in relation to existing values set for compounds in European legislation, or additional costs of processing required to bring compound concentrations in line with limit values) 

    The importance of collecting “operational figures” (e.g. on costs, input use…) from China or other countries where large scale production takes place was stressed.

    The EC will share its non-paper supporting the development of its Algae strategy so the consortium is aware of the other aspects relevant to the development of algae production and use in Europe that are addressed outside of the scope of the study. Overall, it is expected that the study will bring a bit of science for checking the many claims made around the future and role of algae in Europe. The discussion stressed also that how perception of value chain actors could play a role as constraints to seizing the full potential algae offers is out of scope of the present study.

     

    Management of the contract

    The objective of the service contract is to provide DG MARE with a basic background knowledge and up-to-date information that can increase the evidence base for the contribution of the Blue Economy to the EU’s Green Deal. The focus should be put on the costs, impact and benefits of scaling up production of marine algae through aquaculture in the EU. The contract started December 17th, 2021 and has a 12 month duration.

    CINEA’s presentation presented: (a) the main outputs and deliverables expected from the study, as well as the time line for reviewing/rejecting/approving (EC) and revising (consortium) deliverables; (b) the performance and quality requirements that will be applied to assess the performance of the consortium in implementing the study; (c) the payment schedule (interim payment of 30% of the contract value upon approval of the interim report and draft database, final payment of the balance upon approval of the final report and deliverables).

    Which algae species and production technologies to be considered in priority?

    The study will investigate at least 5 marine and 5 inland production technologies (including systems fed by carbon dioxide in flue gas), considering both macro and micro algae.  First ideas from the consortium include:

    • Marine/macro: Traditional line cultivation, MACrigs, cultivation on nets, Multiuse solutions – synergy with marine energy production/other aquaculture/tourism/other
    • Inland/Macro+Micro: High Rate Algal Ponds (HRAP, raceway ponds, Tanksystems, Bioreactors – tubular, Bioreactors - Panels

    The discussions stressed:

    • The interest in coastal and offshore production and the assessment of their feasibility;
    • The available information on macro algae production facilities that is available in the Atlas of the Seas. The idea will be to complete and update these maps including other production options, combining both today (existing data) and future (predicted – specify when data are predicted) situations
    • The question of algae that are considered as invasive species, and the need to look at how regulation in different countries define invasive species

    Which information needs to be collected for different algae production technologies?

    A wide range of data and information will be collected for each individual production technologies. These include:

    • Current state of development (area/production capacity and volumes per country/regions, main value chains (qualitative/quantitative/monetary) and where)

     

    • Basic characteristics: algae species, product characteristics (mass yields/biomass productivity, nutritional yields – proteins but not only?), input requirements (water, land, energy, fertiliser, CO2 uptake/assimilation… ) production costs (investments – including land price, O&M, post-processing and transformation costs (feed only, different value chains…), CO2/GHG emissions (balance? CO2 and CO2 eq for CH4, N2O, halomethanes…), current market price(s) under different value chains (when exist in Europe?), dependence on meteorological conditions (radiation, temperature, water temperature)
    • Production constraints: access to (sea)water, access to labour market, major infrastructure requirements (building/roads…) innovation transfer, governance, factors related to acceptability – odours, landscape, psychology…)

    One major obstacle on the use of algae in animal feed is their digestibility (species-specific) and processes that could improve digestibility. Thus, information on main compounds, toxicity, etc. needs to be collected. Overall, much attention needs to be given to post-harvesting processes that might be rather costly/for which cost estimates (order of magnitude) are to be given. The GHG emissions will be estimated on the basis of what is available from existing Life-Cycle Analyses.

    Which animal feeds to consider for the comparative analysis with algae?

    The terms of reference of the study has stressed the attention to be given to proteins and the comparison with soja. Beyond proteins, algae can have different roles in animal feed.

    • For ruminants: anti-methanogenic feed additives, mineral supplements, protein supplement (provided digestibility issues can be overcome – see point above)
    • For various animal species: health promoting feed components (although these are quite complex to address). It is suggested that the effects of health promoting components are not investigated in details but mentioned as important bonus/additional benefits.

    Beyond soja, additional crops that can be analysed include: rapeseeds, sunflower, beans

    For algae to be integrated into animal feed, full supply chains will need to be set with post-harvest processes for addressing the digestibility issue, and removing potentially some minerals (iodin) that are not compatible with current EU regulation limits.

    Mapping the geographical potential for inland marine algae cultivation at the EU scale

    The mapping and assessment of the EU potential (Task 4) will be a challenging task, which approach and methodology will receive particular attention in the interim meeting. 

    Basic data that will be collected for supporting this EU wide « extrapolation » exercise include: the availability of GHG/CO2 from flue gases, water availability/scarcity (marine waters on the coast?), land scarcity/price, eutrophication problems (fertiliser use), availability of waste heat for product drying, access (and distance) to value markets, access to labour, constraints imposed by environmental regulations….

    From the terms of reference of the study, the EC has a particular interest in the production of algae using flue gases. However:

    • It will be important to understand how flue gas emissions will evolve in the future (expected decrease) in Europe in assessing the potential of algae production using flue gazes.

     

    • It is proposed to consider also other industrial sources of CO2, including from food industry (which can also be source of nutrients – building then an industrial symbiosis in line with the circular economy principles), wastewater treatment plants, ethanol plants,  etc.

    Collecting information and knowledge

    Information and data is available from a wide range of initiatives and experts including from China, e.g. Safe Seaweed Coalition, Norwegian Seaweed Technology Center, SeaWheat – EU COST network, Submariner network + partners, Oceans 2050, International Seaweed Organisation, Olavur Gregersen (Ocean Rainfores, active in the US), Silje Forbord & CO (Norwegiean Seaweed Technology Center), Michele Stanley (SAMS, Scotland), Marie Magnusson (Waikato University, NZ), Muki Spigel (Haifa University), Korean network partners, John Bolton (South Africa) – and plenty more!

    Which links and synergies can be established with the EU4Algae coalition that is being launched (kick-off beginning of February) remains to be discussed. Indeed, the members of the EU4Algae could be contacted for sharing information and data. At the same time, they could be involved in the consolidation of the knowledge base and assessment (e.g. invited at the stakeholder workshop proposed under Task 6, or this workshop being organised within the frame of the EU4Algae coalition).

    The database

    The database can be developed under SQL, ACCESS or Excel. The database will be made public, requiring clear definition of fields (user’s guide) and the setting up of easy-to-use search functionalities. Its first version will presented and demonstrated at the interim meeting.

    Next steps

    The following table summarises the main short-term activities that have been discussed during the meeting

    What?

    Who?

    When?

    Synthesis of the kickoff meeting

    Consortium

    January 27, 2022

    One page summary presenting the study

    ACTeon

    January 27, 2022 (text version, infographic version once text validated by the EC)

    Include information on the EM Forum web site

    DG MARE

    Building on ACTeon’s one page summary (see above)

     

     

    AGENDA

    Kick-off Meeting

    Algae & Climate

    CINEA/EMFF/2020/3.1.16/SI2.861762

    Thursday 20th January 2022, 15:00-17:00

    Online: TEAMS

    15:00-15:05

    Connection and warming up

    15:05-15:10

    e-Welcome, Round the table, Agenda approval

     

    Rocío Suárez Jiménez, Senior Project Adviser, CINEA D.3 (moderator)

    15:10-15:20

    Background and purpose of the study: objectives and expectations

     

     Iain Shepherd, Policy Officer, DG MARE A.1

    Maris Stulgis, Policy Officer, DG MARE A.2

    Grigore Rischitor, Policy Officer, DG MARE A.1

    15:20-15:30

    Contracting actors and provisions (roles of CINEA/DG MARE, timeframe, deliverables, meetings, and payment arrangements)

     

    Rocío Suárez Jiménez, Senior Project Adviser, CINEA D.3

    15:30-16:15 

    Study overview: team presentation/organization, tasks and workplan, methodology, timeline and deliverables

     

    ACTeon /CBIO/TNO

    presentation

    16:15-16:30

    Open discussion and clarifications (All)

    16:30-16:45

    Conclusions and Next steps (All)

    16:45-16:55

    AOB (All)

    16:55-17:00

    Closure of meeting

     

    Rocío Suárez Jiménez, Senior Project Adviser, CINEA D.3