Economics of microalgae production

F.G. Acién, E. Molina, J.M. Fernández-Sevilla, M. Barbosa, L. Gouveia, C. Sepúlveda, J. Bazaes, Z. Arbib

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The economic analysis of biomass production is a critical step in ensuring the success of any microalgae-based industry. Until recently, only small-scale facilities of less than 10. ha have been in operation, but now large-scale facilities of more than 200. ha are being built and operated. Moreover, specific machinery and technologies are being adapted from other industries for use in microalgae production, bringing robust and reliable equipment into the field. In such a scenario, economic analysis standardization is a necessary step to enable alternatives to be compared and decisions to be made. In this chapter the fundamentals of the economic analysis of microalgae-based processes are presented and then applied to different case studies. In summary, all processes have to be designed according to the final biomass use with the optimum technology also depending on the quality of the final biomass product. Both the photobioreactor technology used in the production step and the harvesting strategy employed have a major influence on the final biomass production cost. Power consumption, on the other hand, is a significant factor only when using closed photobioreactors, not raceway reactors. Production costs can be reduced when using wastewater and flue gases as nutrient sources regardless of the technology but only where regulations allow it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicroalgae-Based Biofuels and Bioproducts
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Feedstock Cultivation to End-Products
EditorsCristina Gonzalez-Fernandez, Raul Muñoz
PublisherWoodhead Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9780081010273
ISBN (Print)9780081010235
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2017

Publication series

NameWoodhead Publishing Series in Energy


  • Depreciation
  • Economic analysis
  • Labor
  • Production cost
  • Raw materials


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