A financial assessment of two alternative cultivation systems and their contributions to algae biofuel economic viability Academic Article uri icon


  • The Farm-level Algae Risk Model (FARM) is used to simulate the economic feasibility and probabilistic cost of biomass and bio-crude oil production for two projected algae farms. The two farms differ in their cultivation system: an open raceway pond (ORP) and a photobioreactor (PBR). The economic analysis incorporates production, price, and financial risks the farms will likely face over a 10-year period. Current technology for both cultivation systems is assumed with an emphasis on the differences in biomass production, lipid content, culture crashes, and dewatering and extraction costs. Results of the analysis indicated that with current prices and technology neither cultivation system offers a reasonable probability of economic success. The total costs of production for crude bio-oil is 109$gal-145 x- for an ORP and 77gal-125 x- for a PBR. Further analysis revealed that for every 1% increase in biomass production annual net cash income is increased 0.21% for an ORP and 0.10% for a PBR. 2013 The Authors.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 4.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Richardson, J. W., Johnson, M. D., Zhang, X., Zemke, P., Chen, W., & Hu, Q.

citation count

  • 157

complete list of authors

  • Richardson, James W||Johnson, Myriah D||Zhang, Xuezhi||Zemke, Peter||Chen, Wei||Hu, Qiang

publication date

  • April 2014