The world's first commercial-scale seawater-based biofuels project boosts Egypt's aquaculture profile. (Photo: Global Seawater)
Aquaculture effluent biofuels project launched
Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
Houston-based energy projects development company Energy Allied International and the Seawater Foundation and Global Seawater, Inc, pioneers in the development of Integrated Seawater Agriculture Systems (ISAS), have signed an MOU to develop the world’s first commercial-scale seawater-based biofuels project in Egypt: "New Nile Co."
It will be one of the largest biofuels investments thus far in the Middle East or Africa.
ISAS is an advanced biofuels production model that uses effluent from seawater aquaculture as a natural fertilizer to grow large plantations of the halophyte (naturally salt resistant plant) salicornia, which can yield hefty volumes of high-grade vegetable oil for use as a biofuel feedstock.
"Energy Allied International’s expertise in developing large scale energy projects in the Middle East and Africa, tied with the Seawater Foundation’s and Global Seawater’s extensive knowledge of developing and operating ISAS models, is a winning combination to ensure the success of the world’s first, commercial scale, seawater-based biofuels project," stated Dr Carl Hodges, chairman of The Seawater Foundation and co-chairman of Global Seawater.
Unlike first-generation biofuels producers that menace to displace staple foods like corn due to reliance on freshwater and nutrient-rich soil, New Nile will apply the ISAS model, thereby relying exclusively on untreated seawater and currently unproductive arid, desert and degraded lands.
"New Nile Co is poised to launch a great agricultural revolution in Egypt, by making productive use of the country’s abundant agricultural-skilled labour, unlimited access to seawater and vast desert lands," said Mike Nassar, chairman of Energy Allied.
New Nile plans to produce tens of millions of lts of biofuels from a 50,000 ha-project site. Jointly with leading architecture design firm and the project’s lead planning advisor, Gensler, the developers are presently considering potential site locations along the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts.
Already having successfully applied the ISAS model in Eritrea after conducting broad research and development in Mexico, the developers are secure of achieving similarly favourable results in Egypt.
Besides automotive markets necessitating the use of blended biofuels, New Nile will target the European civil aviation market. The latter is put through strict European Union (EU) regulations, and aviation will enter the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012.
New Nile’s developers are currently discussing potential project site locations with the Egyptian Government and intend to complete the bankable feasibility study this year and being construction in early 2011.
- Foods prices ascend
By Natalia Real