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Identifying locations for large-scale microalgae cultivation in Western Australia: A GIS approach

Boruff, B.J., Moheimani, N.R.ORCID: 0000-0003-2310-4147 and Borowitzka, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0001-6504-4563 (2015) Identifying locations for large-scale microalgae cultivation in Western Australia: A GIS approach. Applied Energy, 149 . pp. 379-391.

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The decline in available fossil fuel resources coupled with an ever increasing global demand for energy, have led to substantial interest in the development of renewable biofuels. Biofuels from microalgae, especially liquid fuels produced from saline microalgae lipids (oils), are seen as an important component of the future biofuels mix. In Australia, several companies and research groups are working on developing microalgal biofuels and whilst most are still in the research and development stage, recently constructed demonstration facilities highlight the potential for large-scale cultivation. Western Australia (WA) specifically, has several key advantages for large-scale microalgae for biofuel cultivation including abundant sunshine, extensive land area unsuitable for agriculture, an abundant water source in the Indian Ocean, existing infrastructure in several potential locations, high local demand for fuel and stable political conditions. The purpose of this study was to identify capable geographic locations for constructing large-scale microalgae for biofuel cultivation facilities in WA. Through the development of the Australian Algal Cultivation-Spatial Location Model (AAC-SLM) an examination of site specific parameters such as irradiance, temperature, CO2 and nutrient availability, workability of soils, land-use and access to distribution infrastructure and a viable workforce, most capable locations for large-scale microalgae cultivation were identified in the state. Results indicate that large tracts of land along the central coast of Western Australia are ideal for cultivation development and could produce up to 11% of Australia's annual automotive diesel needs across the most suitable locations. The end result provides a robust method that can be tailored to the specific requirements and data availability of other regions within Australia and in other nations as a tool to attract future development through the identification of capable cultivation locations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Algae & Seagrass Research Group
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Copyright: © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
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