GreenFuel Building $92M Algae Farm in Spain

GreenFuel, a startup that uses recycled CO2 to grow algae, which can be turned into biofuels and feed, says tonight that it is in the process of building 100-hectares of algae greenhouses — at the cost of $92 million — that can produce 25,000 tons of algae biomass per year. The algae farms are being built in conjunction with Spanish engineering company Aurantia at Holcim’s cement plant near Jerez, Spain.

GreenFuel says it has entered the second phase of this project, which includes harvesting a 100-square-meter algae bioreactor, and it says the project is meant to prove that the process of turning recycled carbon from industrial emissions into algae is economical. Back in March Xconomy reported that GreenFuel had reached an agreement worth up to $92 million to build an algae-based fuel plant in Europe; sounds like this is it.

The announcement is a significant step in GreenFuel’s plans to bring the algae growing technology to commercialization. But the road hasn’t been easy for the seven-year-old company. In June 2007, GreenFuel began a “7-step turnaround plan” that included layoffs, CEO switches, and shutting down a greenhouse in Arizona after discovering that its algae tech was more expensive than first planned.

In July of this year, former Dow Chemical executive Simon Upfill-Brown became GreenFuel’s CEO, taking over for interim CEO (and Ethernet inventor and Polaris partner) Bob Metcalfe. The startup had initially aimed to find a permanent replacement by at least December 2007.

The last phase of GreenFuel’s turn-around plan was raising a Series C round. We’re not sure if the company has closed this round or not, but the company hasn’t made any public announcements on that front. In May the company said it had raised a $13.9 million Series B round from existing investors, including Access Private Equity, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Polaris Venture Partners.

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