Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Potential of biomass production from microalgae with particular reference to land and CO2 availability

  • Project team:

    Skarka, Johannes (Dissertation)

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Research group:

    Energy - resources, technologies, systems

Project description

Microalgal biomass production in Europe is seen as a promising option for biofuels production regarding energy security and sustainability. Since microalgae can be cultivated in photobioreactors on non-arable land this technology could significantly reduce the food vs. fuel dilemma. To obtain high yields microalgae need high amounts of CO2 which may be provided by industrial or power plants. Thus the potential and the economics of algae production will be dependent on the spatial distribution of production sites and CO2 sources.

Against this background a GIS-based model is developed to determine the biomass production from microalgae on potential production sites at certain costs. Suitable sites are identified using land use data, data on protected areas and a digital elevation model. The yield and the accompanying CO2 demand at those sites are derived from solar radiation and temperature data. Depending on the site conditions the production costs of the algal biomass without CO2 costs is calculated. To determine the CO2 costs these data are combined with the spatial distribution of CO2 sources from energy and industrial plants by using techno-economic models for CO2 capture and transportation to calculate spatially explicit biomass potentials at certain microalgal biomass costs.

The database and the model developed within this PhD-project will be modified and adapted to be used for the project Energetic Algae.

Publication of Dissertation:

Skarka, J.
Potenziale zur Erzeugung von Biomasse aus Mikroalgen in Europa unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Flächen- und CO2-Verfügbarkeit - Dissertation. Karlsruhe: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) 2015
Abstract deutsch/htm


Skarka, J.; Rösch, Chr.; Posten, C.
Microalgal biomass for biofuels in Europe - production potential with regard to land and CO2 availability. Poster presentation on the 1st International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels & Bioproducts im Westin Hotel St. Louis. St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 17.-20.07.2011

Skarka, J.; Rösch, Chr.; Posten, C.
The potential of energy production from microalgae in Europe with particular reference to land and CO2 availability. Speech on the 19th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition. Berlin, 06.-10.06.2011

Administrative data

Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Clemens Posten
Advisor: Dr. Christine Rösch
Related projects: Energetic Algae
Doctoral students at ITAS: See Doctoral studies at ITAS


Dr.-Ing. Johannes Skarka
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe