Denver is the place for algae biomass in September

By Mary Rosenthal | August 23, 2012

With the dog days of summer behind us and with back-to-school sales ads dominating the Sunday papers, September is here. With the changing of the leaves comes the annual Algae Biomass Summit, which now in its sixth year continues to reflect the ever-evolving global algae industry.

This year, we’re expecting nearly 900 leaders from all over the world to convene Sept. 24-27 in Denver, to experience more than 90 live sessions and 120 poster presentations during the course of the summit. The 2011 Algae Biomass Summit was attended by more than 800 stakeholders from more than 25 countries across the algae industry.

The summit comes on the heels of significant milestones for algae technologies and some major policy wins from Washington, D.C. and a few state houses. In August, our industry got a huge boost from the Senate Finance Committee’s approval of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012, which extends the existing cellulosic biofuel tax credit to include algae-based biofuels for the first time. This credit, and perhaps more importantly its bipartisan support, will help our industry accelerate the commercial production of domestic fuels and hire workers across the U.S.

Governors in Arizona and Ohio signed legislation that ensures algae will be on similar footing as traditional agriculture industries in those states, attracting jobs, investment and new research. Significant bipartisan support helped these bills pass, and we expect more states to follow suit.

Algae-based fuels proved their mettle on a different playing field in late July, when more than 450,000 gallons of drop-in replacement aviation and diesel fuels were used in the world’s largest naval warfare exercise, the Rim of the Pacific. These algae-based fuels were used in a range of vessels and aircraft, where they performed flawlessly on a global stage.

These successes continued as ABO launched the Summer of Algae, a national campaign of open houses, press conferences and media tours in all corners of the U.S., which will culminate with the Algae Biomass Summit. These events brought together elected officials, staffers, media and Fortune 500 company representatives for a first-hand look at the technologies that are creating new opportunities for U.S. companies to create food, fuel and feed.

The momentum from the summer is the perfect set up for the Algae Biomass Summit, with its engineering and analysis track that feature nearly 30 presentations by leading research scientists from national and corporate laboratories. The sessions will inform technical audiences about the latest in algae growing methodologies, biofuel and oil analysis, and similar developments related to growing and harvesting algae for fuels, food and other products. Advances in engineering are key to wide-scale commercial production of algae-based products.

The biology track also boasts nearly three dozen presentations from researchers and scientists at leading companies, universities and national labs during the course of the three-day event. These sessions are designed for highly-technical audiences and will do a deep dive into new research, breakthroughs and insights related to algae biology.

Two other tracks are devoted to turning algae science into products. Our commercialization track offers attendees a wide range of critical topics, from understanding different production systems, to working with non-fuel products, understanding requirements for algae-based chemicals and the dos and don’ts of commercialization strategies. Our finance and policy track covers key aspects related to moving algae technologies from the lab to the field, including: government funding strategies in the current age of austerity; financing strategies for algae companies whether you’re a start-up or filing an S1; an overview of the regulatory environment; and defining and measuring parameters of algae commerce.

The summit also features several keynote speakers who are leaders in the fields of production (C.J. Warner, CEO of Sapphire Energy), sustainability (L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions) and government (Sarah Bittleman, USDA and Valerie Reed, U.S. DOE).

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the more than 60 exhibitors we’ll have representing all parts of the algae ecosystem, giving attendees a full, 360-degree view of the algae industry, along with face-to-face networking to make new connections and find new business opportunities.

It’s hard to believe that just five years ago, a small group of committed algae entrepreneurs, researchers and advisers created the first Algae Biomass Summit, which itself became the genesis for the Algae Biomass Organization.  It’s a testament to how fast the industry is growing and the significant potential that still lies ahead.

We look forward to seeing you in Denver, Sept. 24-27, at the sixth annual Algae Biomass Summit.