Many of the envisioned applications of microalgae currently remain untested or are economically uncompetitive with oil-based products (e.g. algae-based biofuels). As such AlgaEnergy is a business founded on a vision of the potential of largely as-yet-unproven technological capacities, based heavily on research and development.
With research activities based in Madrid, the company has international reach, with subsidiaries in North Africa, Brazil, Mexico, India, Turkey, US, & Australia. With these international subsidiaries, the company seeks to contribute to the creation of new dynamics of circularity across international markets. As such, AlgaEnergy emerges as a case to study not only nationally situated CE dynamics, but efforts to create international mechanisms of CE in competition with existing extractive global market dynamics.
Rather than a recent add-on to the company’s activities, scaling circularity is at the center of the operations of AlgaEnergy. Its stated mission is to address 3 challenges: food security, environmental sustainability, and energy security.
Distinctive aspects of the case study
Recognizing the potential of algae, the EC has articulated an aggressive intention to promote the algae sector in Europe, arguing that “raising the profile of algae will help achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, the transition to a green, circular and carbon-neutral EU.”
Accordingly, AlgaEnergy has been the recipient of Horizon 2020 funds through multiple projects. The company was also awarded the 2020 Environment Award from the regional government of Andalusia in the category of Circular Economy. The president of the company president, Augusto Rodríguez-Villa has called AlgaEnergy “a true example of the circular economy on which our future development must continue to be based.”
The case will produce insights about a) drivers and barriers to the creation of circular economy through biological innovation and the development and application of novel technologies; b) dynamics of CE creation across international borders c) challenges related to creating CE in competition with legacy extractive economy processes d) new modes of social and economic organization perceived to be necessary for the creation of CE.
Tess Doezema, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Javier Rivera, University of Vigo
Vincenzo Pavone, CSIC