Offshore macroalgae biomass for bioenergy production: Environmental aspects, technological achievements and challenges

Francois Fernand, Alvaro Israel, Jorunn Skjermo, Thomas Wichard, Klaas R. Timmermans, Alexander Golberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Economic and environmental developments in the last decades call for the displacement of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. Biofuels are considered as a part of the solution for this challenge. Sustainable raw materials for the production of transportation biofuels such as biodiesel, biobutanol and bioethanol, can be obtained from algal biomass. In particular, marine macroalgal biomass is a promising feedstock for transportation biofuels because of (the) its fast growth and its potential cultivation on seawater, avoiding competition of resources with conventional agriculture of terrestrial plants used for food. In addition, dissolved inorganic nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon are taken up by macroalgae, helping to alleviate eutrophication in seas and oceans. Using biological, chemical and engineering advances in the last decades, technologies to provide cost efficient cultivation, harvesting, extraction and processing of sustainable biofuels have to be elaborated. This paper provides a review of macroalgae based biorefineries with offshore cultivation and consequent biomass conversion into transportation liquid biofuels. We discuss the methods for offshore cultivation, harvesting, and conversion of macroalgae biomass into liquid transportation biofuels. Based on the current information and global experience, we present local perspectives specific for France, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Israel on the potential use of Exclusive Economic Zone for transportation biofuels production. Marketable suggestions for future research need to include all stakeholders of a given site for offshore biorefinery development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - 2017


  • Algae biofuel
  • Aquaculture
  • Bioenergy
  • Biofuels
  • Biorefinery
  • Fermentation
  • Macroalgae
  • Offshore
  • Policy making
  • Renewable energy
  • Seaweed cultivation


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