The Arab gulf region is continuing to boost its international profile in renewable energy, the most recent initiative aims to use algae as biofuel. Lootah Biofuels in Dubai has recently inked a deal with Singapore-based AlgaOil with the ultimate goal of using algae for oil extraction. (Lootah is the company that is helping bio-power buses in Dubai). It won’t be as easy as it might sound, but in an interview with ConstructionWeekOnline, alaLootah’s CEO Yousif Saeed Lootah believes that it could give a boost to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help ensure that oil spillage is not lost for the oil rich Gulf country.
While the idea of using oil extraction to produce biodiesel from algae has been a construct seeing widespread optimism in the biofuel industry of late, using man-made ponds could be a major downside for the idea, which means using other natural resources and space for the biodiesel creation through absorbing areas that could be used for other purposes.
However, experts are excited that the Gulf region is pushing forward, and they say that considering the vast untouched desert in the region, it won’t do as much hindrance to natural landscapes as other areas of the globe, which has Lootah and others excited about the potential of algae.
While further studies in the lab are to take place early next year, Lootah is seeing the massive potential that biodiesel can have for the region and the globe.
“The potential is very big – but it will take 20-30 years, as fossil fuel oil declines and renewable energy sources improve. And the mindset of the people will change – this is something that will happen,” he said in the interview.
If Lootah Biofuels sounds familiar, it is likely because of their unique initiative that began in 2010 where they began using oll cooking oil from restaurants and food manufacturers to creat their initial biofuel. At first, it was welcomed by manufacturers and restaurants, and the oil was given away without cost, but times have changed and companies are often demanding payment for what is ostensibly waste.
“We have educated the food chain,” Lootah said.
“Now that there is awareness of the value of used cooking oil, the food chain companies – even the smaller restaurants – are selling it. The price of the used cooking oil is higher than when we started.”
The question on industry experts minds, including Lootah (which launched a green car project in Dubai and which is owned by the huge construction firm Nakheel ), will be whether algae can help push the biofuel industry or if it will fail to show the hopes that so many have for the abundant green energy source.
Time will tell, but we should know more by early 2013.