SCOTTISH Enterprise (SE) today announced that leading international energy and environmental consultancy AEA has been awarded the foresighting and economic modelling work for SE’s recently integrated ITI Energy Seaweed Anaerobic Digestion (SAD) programme, to aid and underpin the commercialisation of the technology being developed.
Says a spokesperson: “Seaweed (or marine algae) remains an untapped global natural resource that could be sustainably harvested and processed, using anaerobic digestion, to provide a renewable energy source. The £3.7 million R&D programme aims to exploit this potential with the development of key enabling technologies, that will scale-up the SAD process and optimise seaweed harvesting to generate renewable, sustainable and secure energy, as well jobs for coastal and island communities in Scotland.
“AEA brings to the programme their world renowned expertise and experience in the field of anaerobic digestion and related renewable energy technologies. Furthermore, AEA has sub-contracted the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) for their expertise in seaweed harvesting and cultivation, and the Hebridean Seaweed Company, which commercially harvests seaweed off the west coast of Scotland.”
Colin McNaught, knowledge leader for Renewable Energy at AEA, commented: “With increasing interest in renewable energy it is vital to understand the commercial and technical opportunities for all forms of energy source. Harnessing seaweed has the potential to provide heat and power, using a natural and Scottish resource. AEA’s team will help Scottish Enterprise understand how seaweed can help to meet Scotland’s energy and economic targets.”
This is the latest in a variety of commercial and academic R&D providers to be brought onto the SAD programme since its launch earlier this year, with others including Glasgow Caledonian, Newcastle and Abertay Universities, B9 Organic Energy with the QUESTOR Centre, and Scotland-based Zebec Systems Ltd.
Dr. Craig Rose, programme manager at Scottish Enterprise, said: “This is a very exciting and commercially relevant programme, as algae biofuels are a real contender in the race for a future sustainable energy supply.
“The SAD programme is utilising both academic and commercial experience to deliver technically sound and commercially pragmatic outcomes, in realistic timescales, to benefit the Scottish economy.
“I am delighted that AEA has come on board and, with its links to SAMS and the Hebridean Seaweed Company, I am confident they will contribute a great deal in driving the programme forward.”
Adrian Gillespie, senior director of Energy & Low Carbon Technologies at Scottish Enterprise, commented: “Investment in biofuels is growing massively all over the world and we estimate that the potential market for Scottish seaweed harvesting for use as a biofuel will start at around £4 million and grow significantly from there, along with other industries set to benefit too.
“Access to seaweed resources also provides potential for a cost-effective and sustainable source of renewable energy for Scotland’s coastal and island communities.”
The SAD programme is taking place in three phases over four years. The first phase is focusing on the optimisation of SAD, with the second phase looking to create market opportunities to facilitate sustainable and low cost energy supplies for island communities. The final phase will focus on long-term market opportunities to intensify and automate the aquaculture industry.
Further details on the programme can be obtained by visiting the ITI Energy website at: www.itienergy.com.
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