Possible future effects of large-scale algae cultivation for biofuels on coastal eutrophication in Europe

H. Blaas, C. Kroeze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Biodiesel is increasingly considered as an alternative for fossil diesel. Biodiesel can be produced from rapeseed, palm, sunflower, soybean and algae. In this study, the consequences of large-scale production of biodiesel from micro-algae for eutrophication in four large European seas are analysed. To this end, scenarios for the year 2050 are analysed, assuming that in the 27 countries of the European Union fossil diesel will be replaced by biodiesel from algae. Estimates are made for the required fertiliser inputs to algae parks, and how this may increase concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in coastal waters, potentially leading to eutrophication. The Global NEWS (Nutrient Export from WaterSheds) model has been used to estimate the transport of nitrogen and phosphorus to the European coastal waters. The results indicate that the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the coastal waters may increase considerably in the future as a result of large-scale production of algae for the production of biodiesel, even in scenarios assuming effective waste water treatment and recycling of waste water in algae production. To ensure sustainable production of biodiesel from micro-algae, it is important to develop cultivation systems with low nutrient losses to the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-53
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • life-cycle assessment
  • biodiesel
  • microalgal


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