Utah State University Professor Jason Quinn and his team took 15 years of weather data from over 4,300 places in the world and ran a series of simulations to predict how much algae oil could be grown and produced in outdoor environments globally. The result is this map, which shows how much algae lipid oil can be produced per hectare of land over a year period.
It’s not surprising that warmer areas would be able to produce more algae and thus more oil. But of course not all algae oil would be turned into algae fuel (very, very little of it is being used for fuel today) and not all algae oil is grown outside. In fact some of the leading companies, like Solazyme, grow their algae in closed tanks. So it’s still yet to be determined the best ways to produce enough cheap algae to be able to compete with gasoline.
But the map is just interesting to see the world’s potential and also to see how data is being used to make predictions like these. Companies working on algae oil production include Sapphire Energy, Solazyme, Heliae, and Synthetic Genomics.